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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 January, 2005, 20:34 GMT
Soprano de los Angeles, 81, dies
Victoria de los Angeles
Victoria de los Angeles in 1979, the year she retired from opera
Legendary Spanish soprano Victoria de los Angeles has died in hospital in Barcelona aged 81, her family has said.

The singer had been admitted to the city's Teknon clinic on New Year's Eve with a bronchial infection.

The singer, who was renowned as one of 20th Century's finest sopranos, retired from the stage in 1979 but continued giving recitals into her 70s.

Her body lay in state at the Catalonia state palace in Barcelona for several hours on Saturday afternoon.

Victoria de los Angeles was born in Barcelona in 1923. After graduating from the Liceo Conservatory in her native city at the age of 18, she began a career as a coloratura soprano but went on to be recognised as one of the outstanding lyric singers of the century.

She made her debut as the countess in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro in Barcelona in 1944 but her international career took off after she performed in Manuel de Falla's La Vida Breve in London in 1948 and in Charles Gounod's Faust in Paris the following year.

As her voice broadened she took on many of opera's most challenging roles, including Carmen, which she recorded under Thomas Beecham and Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhauser, which she performed in Bayreuth.

Although she performed mainly in French and Italian and occasionally in German, she remained quintessentially Spanish and deeply attached to her native Barcelona.

"She was the personification of good taste, a woman with an extraordinary voice, a woman with a frail appearance but who had a very strong character.

"I would say a woman who for my generation has educated us in good taste," Liceo director Josep Caminal told Spanish state ratio.

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