Montserrat Caballe, a Spanish opera singer renowned for her bel canto technique and her interpretations of the roles of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti, has died, the AP reports. She was 85. Hospital Sant Pau spokesman Abraham del Moral confirmed her death early Saturday. Del Moral says that Caballe's family requested the cause of death not be released while saying that she'd been in the hospital since September. Spanish media said Caballe entered the hospital in September due to a gall bladder problem. Tenor Jose Carreras says the world of opera has lost its "best soprano," telling Catalunya Radio that "of all the sopranos that I have heard live, I have never heard anyone like Montserrat." Carreras, who like Caballe is from Barcelona, praised her "versatility," saying "she could do everything, from the purest bel canto all the way to Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde.'"
Born into a working class family in Barcelona, Caballe unveiled her musical talents early, singing Bach cantatas at the age of 7. Per the BBC, Caballe burst onto the international scene in Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall in 1965. She went on to appear alongside the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo, appearing at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Vienna State Opera. In her almost unlimited repertoire, she starred in 90 opera roles, with nearly 4,000 stage performances. King Felipe VI has expressed his condolences for Caballe, calling the Spanish opera singer "a legend of universal culture." The king's official Twitter account said that Caballe was "the great lady of opera, legend of universal culture, the best of the best." The tweet adds that "her personality and unequaled voice will accompany us forever." (Read more obituary stories.)