Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 10:40 UK

Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer dies

Leyla Gencer
Leyla Gencer made her UK debut at London's Royal Opera House in 1962

Renowned Turkish Soprano Leyla Gencer has died at her home in Milan, Italy, at the age of 80.

The singer made her career at Italy's La Scala opera house and was known as La Diva Turca, or The Turkish Diva. She appeared in more than 70 productions.

Gencer died of respiratory problems and heart failure on Friday.

La Scala expressed "immense sorrow" over Gencer's death, saying the singer had "one of the most moving voices of any time".

Her performances provided "years of unrepeatable splendour", it added.

Gencer was a contemporary of opera singers Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi and made her debut at La Scala in 1957 playing Madame Lidoine in Francis Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites.

After retiring in 1985, she devoted herself to discovering and training young talent.

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