Opera star Montserrat Caballe, who duetted with Freddie Mercury on Barcelona, dies

Opera star Montserrat Caballe, who duetted with Freddie Mercury on the song Barcelona, has died.

She was 85 and had long suffered from health problems. She died at the Sant Pau hospital in Barcelona, where she had been since last month.

Caballe's family has requested the cause of death not be released, a hospital spokesman said.

It is believed she was suffering from a gall bladder problem.

Caballe's stellar career spanned five decades and 90 opera roles with nearly 4,000 stage performances.

The song entitled Barcelona in collaboration with Queen singer Freddie Mercury was originally released in 1987.

After Mercury's death in 1991, the track was featured at the 1992 Summer Olympics in the Spanish city and peaked at number 2 in the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

King Felipe VI of Spain paid tribute to Caballe, calling her "the great lady of opera, legend of universal culture, the best of the best".

Caballe unveiled her musical talents early, singing Bach cantatas at the age of seven.

Her international breakthrough came in 1965 when she replaced Marilyn Horne in a semi-staged performance of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at New York's Carnegie Hall, to which she earned a 25-minute standing ovation.

The operatic soprano's voice was noted for its purity, precise control and power using superb technique and vocal shadings, as well as pianissimos, which were inspired by Spanish operatic tenor Miguel Fleta.

Caballe had been dealing with ill health for a number of years and suffered a stroke in 2012.

In 2015, she was under prosecution over allegations of tax evasion or fraud. She was excused from attending the trial in Barcelona due to poor health and appeared at a court hearing via video link.

She was ordered to pay €254,000 (£223,304) and accepted a six-month suspended jail sentence as part of a deal with prosecutors after being accused of funnelling her earnings through a company in Andorra.

Caballe is survived by her husband, Bernabe Marti, an opera singer whom she married in 1964, and their two children Monsterrat Marti and Bernabe Marti Jr.