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Spanish opera legend Montserrat Caballé has died aged 85.

Her duet with Freddie Mercury became the signature song of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

According to news agency Efe, Montserrat Caballé had been suffering from health complaints for some time and was admitted to hospital in Barcelona last month.

With a 50-year career, Montserrat Caballé had stints with the Basel Opera and Bremen Opera before her international breakthrough in 1965 in Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Montserrat Caballé went on to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and Vienna State Opera, appearing opposite the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.

The song Barcelona was first released in 1987 and later became an anthem for the city’s 1992 Olympics, the year after Freddie Mercury died. She sang at the opening ceremony with Placido Domingo and José Carreras.

French Legend Charles Aznavour Dies Aged 94

Montserrat Caballé was born in Barcelona, and at the age of nine was accepted for training at the city’s Conservatori Liceu.

She graduated in 1953, and went to Italy, where she sang some minor roles.

Montserrat Caballé’s career advanced rapidly after a successful appearance as Mimi in La Bohème at the Basel Opera. In 1965 she made a triumphant debut in the US, taking over the title role – at short notice – of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall.

The singer’s performance brought widespread praise for the beauty of her voice and her dramatic interpretation, and established her as an international star.

Montserrat Caballé’s career was dogged by ill health. In 1985, she spent three months in hospital with a brain tumor, and had treatment for heart trouble in 1993.

In 2015, Montserrat Caballé was given a six-month suspended prison sentence for tax fraud.

According to Spanish media, plans are being made for a funeral in Barcelona on October 8.


Catalonia’s independence referendum has begun despite Spanish police’s attempt to prevent the vote from taking place.

The Spanish government has pledged to stop a vote that was declared illegal by Spain’s constitutional court.

The interior ministry says police officers began seizing ballot papers and boxes as the polls opened.

Riot police blocked potential voters from entering a polling station in the regional capital Barcelona.

Thousands of separatist supporters occupied schools and other buildings that have been designated as voting centers ahead of the polls opening.

Many of those inside are parents and their children, who remained in the buildings after the end of lessons on September 29 and bedded down in sleeping bags on gym mats.

In some areas, farmers positioned tractors on roads and in front of polling station doors, and school gates were taken away to make it harder for the authorities to seal buildings off.

Police insisted polling stations would not be allowed to open, and that those inside would be evicted.

On October 1, dozens of national police vehicles left their base in the port of Barcelona as officers were deployed.

Referendum organizers have called for peaceful resistance to any police action.

Catalan government officials have predicted a big turnout.

The ballot papers contain just one question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?” There are two boxes: Yes or No.

Image source Wikimedia

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Ahead of the polls opening, the Catalan government said voters could use any polling station if their designated voting place was shut.

The referendum has been declared illegal by Spain’s constitutional court, and thousands of extra police officers have been sent to the region.

The Spanish government has put policing in Catalonia under central control and ordered the regional force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, to help enforce the ban.

In a show of force ahead of the poll, Spanish authorities have seized voting materials, imposed fines on top Catalan officials and temporarily detained dozens of politicians.

Police have also occupied the regional government’s telecommunications center.

The head of the Catalan police has urged officers to avoid using force.

Catalonia, a wealthy region of 7.5 million people in north-eastern Spain, has its own language and culture.

It also has a high degree of autonomy, but is not recognized as a separate nation under the Spanish constitution.

Pressure for a vote on self-determination has grown over the past five years.

However, Spanish unionists argue Catalonia already enjoys broad autonomy within Spain, along with other regions like the Basque Country and Galicia.

PM Mariano Rajoy says the vote goes against the constitution, which refers to “the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards”.

Central government spokesman Iñigo Mendez de Vigo accused the Catalan government of being inflexible and one-sided, but it is a charge that Catalan nationalists throw back at Madrid itself.

Demonstrations by independence campaigners have been largely peaceful.

On the eve of the vote, thousands of demonstrators calling for Spanish unity held rallies in cities across the country, including in the Catalan capital Barcelona.

They waved Spanish flags and carried banners reading “Catalonia is Spain”.


Modernism stemmed from the Industrial revolution, a time where rapid changes to the landscape at the hands of manufacturing, transportation and changes to the urban landscape as city centres began to prosper. Before this time artists were commissioned to produce art depicting scenes from the bible or mythology; but as the landscape changed there was new inspiration and artists begun to take influence from their surroundings. This was perceived as a reaction from the past and this style of art was centred around innovation, experimentation and the embracing of new materials and colour, to create artwork reflective of the time.

Modernism reflected changes in society, the experimentation of colour and lines and a tendency towards abstract depiction is reminiscent in the works of Antoni Gaudi, scattered throughout Barcelona.

At the end of the 19th century, Barcelona was beginning to transform and its’ culture was transforming, in Barcelona, the urban landscape was developing and there was a significant increase in the quantity of buildings being developed. The return of the ‘los indianos’, Spaniards that were returning home with their fortunes and the modern lifestyle influences from Latin America, who were keen to bring around changes.

Barcelona’s economic prosperity and the rise of the bourgeoisie was clearly evident. The Passeig de Gracia is a road that unites the old and new town and this is the destination that depicts so much of the work Antoni Gaudi. This area became a desirable location for the Catalan middle classes to spend their time and money in the abundance of luxury shops. The wealthiest members of society wanted to build their houses as demonstration of their wealth.

Josep Batllo was a wealthy textile business owner, he bought a bland and dreary building and enlisted the services of Antoni Gaudi to transform the building into something more prominent and bold, the result created one of the most iconic buildings of the modernism movement. This movement is credited with development of Barcelona. The development of the building known as Casa Battlo in the Passeig de Gracia is a celebration of Gaudi and he is credited as one of the most dynamic of this movement.

Caso Battlo embodies typical modernist and Gaudi style. Modernist architecture is characterised by the use of curved lines, merging the functional and the aesthetic of a building, the use of plant and animal symbols, asymmetry and a more organic style and shape. Modernism embraces the use of colour and the use of new materials incorporated with existing is typical of this style.

Caso Battlo, has a fantastical and imaginative façade with the use of glass and stone, wavy lines and covered in a rainbow of cleared mosaics in colours of the sea and sand made from glass and ceramics. The roof is shaped like the back of large scaled animal, often likened to a dragon, the ornamental spine forms the top of the building.  The main gallery overlooks passersby on the Passeig de Gracia and a full panorama of the outside view is possible running the whole width of the room. The interior pillars are decorated with modernist floral designs. Balconies adorn the exterior projecting outward over the pavement. Much like Gaudi’s work Caso Batllo is an organic and colourful representation of the time, a representation of a creature adorning the pavement.

A teacher at a school in Barcelona, Spain, has been killed by a 13-year-old student armed with a crossbow, local media say.

The suspect has been detained. His motive is unclear. Police have not confirmed the weapon used or whether he was a student at the Instituto Joan Foster.

At least four other people were injured in the attack.

The teacher killed was protecting another during the incident, El Mundo newspaper reports.Spain teacher killed with crossbow

According to Spanish media reports, the boy, said to be also armed with a knife, arrived at a class on Monday morning when he injured a teacher and her daughter, who was a student of hers.

Hearing screams, a male teacher who was there as a substitute entered the classroom and was killed.

Barcelona Mayor Xavier Trias tweeted that he was appalled by the incident and has pledged his support for those affected.

Spain’s ANPE teachers union says it is the first documented case of a student killing a teacher in the country.

If the attacker is confirmed as a 13-year-old, he would not face charges as the age of criminal responsibility in Spain is 14.


Catalonia is holding an informal poll on independence.

The Spanish judiciary has ruled the vote unconstitutional but Catalan leader Artur Mas warned against any attempt to disrupt it.

Spain’s constitutional court suspended earlier plans for a referendum on secession.

PM Mariano Rajoy said the vote would have no effect and urged the region to return to “sanity”.

Voters will be asked whether they want a Catalan state and whether that state should be independent.

Catalonia is a wealthy a region of 7.5 million people and contributes more to the Spanish economy than it gets back through central government funds. Economic and cultural grievances have fuelled Catalan nationalism.

He says there is a long history of support for winning independence from Spain, or at least much greater autonomy within it.

This week, the Constitutional Court demanded the vote be suspended.

Catalonia is holding an informal poll on independence

Catalonia is holding an informal poll on independence

Catalonia’s government insisted it went ahead, organized by volunteers and with no official electoral roll.

Artur Mas warned the Spanish government against any attempt to halt the vote.

He said: “I don’t know what they will do, it does not depend on us, but if they have a minimum of common sense I think any action out of the ordinary would be a direct attack on democracy and a direct attack on fundamental rights.”

Mariano Rajoy urged a return to sanity and for talks “within the legal framework of the constitution”.

He said the vote would be “neither a referendum nor a consultation nor anything of the sort”.

He added: “What is certain is that it will not have any effect.”

The Libres e Iguales (Free and Equal) group, which opposes the vote, held protests in dozens of cities.

One protest in Barcelona witnessed minor scuffles but no arrests.

Rallies in favor of the vote have also been held.

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Spanish riot police have clashed with protesters in Barcelona on the day of a general strike called in protest at the government’s labor market reforms.

Some of the marchers in Barcelona smashed windows and set rubbish bins alight. Police responded with tear gas and baton charges.

There were also protests in the capital, Madrid, and other cities.

Land and air travel were all affected, and domestic and European flights cut to a fraction of normal levels.

The centre-right government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will unveil measures on Friday aimed at saving tens of billions of Euros and making it easier for businesses to sack employees.

It hopes the changes will cut unemployment which is currently the highest in the EU at 23%.

Nearly half of Spain’s under 25’s are out of work.

Unions said 800,000 people joined the protest in Barcelona. Police put the number at 80,000.

Most of the protests were peaceful, but some protesters hurled rocks at bank offices and shop fronts. A branch of the coffee chain Starbucks was set on fire.

“They burned a two-storey Starbucks cafe and another shop,” a spokesman for the regional interior ministry told the AFP news agency.

“It is out now. In the shop there is broken glass and they took out whatever they could burn.”


Spanish riot police have clashed with protesters in Barcelona on the day of a general strike called in protest at the government's labor market reforms

Spanish riot police have clashed with protesters in Barcelona on the day of a general strike called in protest at the government's labor market reforms


Police fired tear gas and shot rubber bullets at the ground, TV pictures showed.

In Madrid, 900,000 people took part in protest marches, according to unions. The government did not provide any figures.

Scuffles with police broke out early on Thursday as workers from Spain’s biggest unions picketed Madrid’s bus depot.

Unions claimed strong support at car factories and other industrial sites but the government played down the impact.

Noisy picket lines formed outside transport hubs and some businesses.

Unions said more than 80% of workers took part, but the government said many services were kept running.

The strike is the government’s first big challenge since taking office after elections last November.

By agreement between the government and the unions, bus and rail services were kept to a minimum service while only one in 10 domestic and one in five European flights were able to operate.

Outside Atocha – one of Madrid’s main rail stations – picketers waved red union flags and blew whistles as police looked on.

One protester in Madrid, 31-year-old Angel Andrino, said he had been sacked a day after the labor reforms were approved in a decree last month.

Accompanied on the march by his parents and brother, he told the Associated Press news agency: “We are going through a really hard time, suffering.

“The rights that our parents and grandparents fought for are being wiped away without the public being consulted.”

The UGT union said that participation in the strike was “massive” and that virtually all workers at Renault, Seat, Volkswagen and Ford car factories around Spain had honored it during the shift.

Regional TV stations in Andalusia in the south, Catalonia in the north-east and Madrid were also off the air because of the strike.

With the EU’s highest rate of unemployment, Spain is under pressure to reduce its budget deficit and bring its public finances under control.

“The question here is not whether the strike is honored by many or few, but rather whether we get out of the crisis,” the country’s Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said.

“That is what is at stake, and the government is not going to yield.”

On 10 February, the government approved legislation cutting severance pay to a maximum of 33 days’ salary for each year worked, compared with the current 45 days.

The government insists the reforms will create a more flexible system for businesses and workers, in a country with a stagnant economy that needs to start creating jobs.

Mariano Rajoy, who took office in December, defended his measures on the grounds that they would eventually generate more jobs.

“No government has passed as many reforms in its first 100 days in office as this one,” he said on Tuesday, speaking on a visit to South Korea.

“The biggest mistake would be to do nothing,” the Spanish prime minister added.

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