Mourners bid farewell to legendary Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballe

By Albert Gea and Jordi Rubio

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spanish royalty, politicians and Catalan tenor Jose Carreras joined family and friends of legendary soprano singer Montserrat Caballe for her funeral on Monday, two days after her death at the age of 85.

Caballe, famed for her powerful, soaring voice, enjoyed an international career spanning nearly six decades and was known not only for her great operatic performances. In 1987 she released the song "Barcelona", an anthem to her native city, with Freddie Mercury, lead singer of British rock group Queen.

Those attending her funeral at Les Corts funeral parlour in Barcelona included Spains's former queen Sofia, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Catalan regional leader Quim Torra.

"She was an irreplaceable artist, the soprano of the 20th century along with Maria Callas," Jose Carreras told reporters outside the funeral parlour.

"(Caballe) was a simple woman on a day-to-day basis, but when she dressed like a queen... she was really majestic. She was a unique singer, there will never be anyone else like her."

Renowed for her performances of Italian opera, Caballe also worked with the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Her last performance took place in the Catalan town of Cambrills in 2014.

She died in Sant Pau hospital in Barcelona on Saturday. She had been in ill health for a number of years and was admitted to hospital in mid-September.

(Reporting by Albert Gea; writing by Jesús Aguado; Editing by Gareth Jones)