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Opera singer Montserrat Caballé accepts prison term for tax evasion

But 82-year-old will not serve six-month sentence for withholding 2010 payments

Montserrat Caballé poses next to dresses worn during her performances.
Montserrat Caballé poses next to dresses worn during her performances.

Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballé on Tuesday accepted a six-month prison sentence for withholding €500,000 in taxes in 2010.

The 82-year-old soprano, who is in poor health, was not at the courthouse to hear the sentence, but participated via video conference from her home after the judge authorized the unusual procedure.

In 2012, Caballé suffered a stroke and broke her arm while in Russia for a performance, and has since limited her public appearances.

Caballé is not the only celebrity to have come under scrutiny from Spanish tax officials in recent years

She will not actually set foot in prison, however, as the term is under two years and she has no criminal record.

Caballé, an icon of the opera scene for decades, specialized in Italian bel canto but became more widely famous after singing with Queen front man Freddie Mercury in 1987.

Tuesday’s proceedings were a confirmation of an out-of-court agreement reached between the singer and state prosecutors nearly a year ago.

Under the deal, Caballé accepted the conviction and a fine of €240,000 for claiming to live in the nearby principality of Andorra for tax purposes, even though she really resides in Barcelona.

In 2010, the singer made around €2 million from concerts in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Russia and Ukraine. By posing as an Andorra resident, she avoided paying tax on that income in Spain.

Caballé is not the only celebrity to have come under scrutiny from Spanish tax officials in recent times. So did soccer player Leo Messi, tennis champion Rafa Nadal and singers Ana Torroja of pop band Mecano, Alejandro Sanz, Lola Flores and Isabel Pantoja.

English version by Susana Urra.