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

Caballe performing at the peak of her abilities in 1979.  AFP

The singer, who was known as one of the world's greatest voices during a career spanning half a century, had long suffered from ill health and was hospitalised in mid-September due to a gall bladder problem, local media reported.

Spokesman Abraham del Moral told AP news agency that the singer's family requested the cause of death not be released.

A government source said Sanchez would attend Caballe's funeral, which will be held in Les Corts morgue, in Barcelona, at midday on Monday.

Madrid's Teatro Real said it would dedicate Saturday's performance of "Faust" to the memory of Caballe, lauding the "singular beauty of her voice" and her prodigious technique.

She first made a global splash when "Barcelona", her song with Queen singer Freddie Mercury, became the anthem for the 1992 Olympic Games. "We are very sorry for her loss", the royals said in a tweet.

She began in the Swiss city in 1956, as Mimi in La Bohème, then joined the Bremen Opera, where she sang from 1959 to 1962, in a wide variety of roles.

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Caballe's nearly 60-year worldwide career took her from Basel to NY and beyond.

She was admired around the world for her versatility and as one of the greatest opera stars to have graced the stage.

She rose to global fame after a stunning performance as a last-minute replacement for another legend, Marylin Horne, at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1965, and sang in over 80 roles on leading stages around the world.

However, despite a glittering and successful career, it was not without controversy.

She was ordered to pay €254,000 and accepted a six-month suspended jail sentence as part of a deal with prosectors.

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