Montserrat Caballé, who gained a whole new group of fans in 1988 when singing “Barcelona” with Queen star Freddie Mercury, has passed away aged 85. Her passing on Saturday was confirmed by Abraham del Moral, a spokesman for the St. Pau Hospital in Barcelona.

Caballé reportedly suffered a stroke in 2012 and was last month admitted to the hospital with a gall bladder problem.

Humble beginnings for Montserrat Caballé

As reported by The Guardian, Caballé was born in Barcelona to a working-class family.

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However, her singing talents soon became clear, with the young girl singing Bach cantatas at seven years of age. She was accepted by Barcelona’s Conservatori Liceu at the age of nine.

She then graduated in 1953, heading to Italy where she performed in several minor roles.

In 1965, Caballé won international acclaim in Carnegie Hall in New York, while standing in for another performer as Lucrezia Borgia – a notoriously difficult role – in Donizetti’s opera. The performance was noted as one of opera’s greatest overnight successes.

Caballé then toured the world in a singing career spanning 50 years, with starring in 90 operas, and appearing in around 4,000 performances in all. Among the venues she appeared in were the San Francisco Opera, Metropolitan Opera, the Swiss State Opera, Covent Garden and the Vienna State Opera, where she appeared among such greats as Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

Montserrat Caballé and Freddie Mercury in Barcelona

Caballé’s performance with Freddie Mercury went on to be released as the track “Barcelona” in 1987. The famous duo also performed that song in several different venues over the years.

As reported by the BBC, the song was later used as the anthem for Barcelona’s 1992 Olympics, which happened in the year after Mercury’s death. Montserrat sang the song at the opening ceremony along with Domingo and José Carreras.

The BBC reports that fans named CaballéLa Superba” (the superb one) as she endeared herself to international audiences with her hugely expressive personality.

Health and tax problems dogged Caballé

Her health has always been a problem for the soprano, including treatment for a brain tumour in 1985 and heart problems in 1993.

2015 saw the singer facing charges of tax fraud [VIDEO] when she was accused of channeling funds through an Andorran company while living in Barcelona. Tax authorities claimed she had defrauded them [VIDEO] in the sum of €500,000, which she later paid. Caballé received a six-month suspended prison sentence.

The BBC quotes the Spanish media of reporting that plans are already being made for Caballé’s funeral to be held on Monday in Barcelona.