Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballe dies at 85

Montserrat Caballe performs during a concert

The Spanish news agency Efe announced on Saturday morning that she had died at St Pau hospital in Barcelona, according to hospital sources.

The "Gran Teatre del Liceu" opera house in Barcelona, where Caballe performed more than 200 times, described her as "one of the most important sopranos in history".

Spanish media said that Caballe entered the hospital in September because of a gall bladder problem. Opera singer Maria Callas is once said to have answered "Only Caballe." when asked once who she considered a worthy successor.

Caballe's nearly 60-year worldwide career took her from Basel to NY and beyond. Caballé never aspired to be a great actress - her old-school plastique was the despair of many an opera director - but she was...

Caballe was born in Barcelona, and began her professional career in Basel in 1956, as Mimi in La Bohème.

Caballe made a global splash when "Barcelona", her song with Queen singer Freddie Mercury, became the anthem for the 1992 Olympic Games.

Wider global recognition came in 1965, when she appeared in a performance of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall in NY. She was particularly admired for her purity of voice, vocal shadings and exquisite pianissimos.

In 1997, she sang on two tracks on an album by New Age composer Vangelis.

She was ordered to pay €254,000 and accepted a six-month suspended jail sentence as part of a deal with prosectors. She also established a foundation for needy children in Barcelona.

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