Edita Gruberová, the legendary coloratura soprano, has died at the age of 74, her management said in a statement seen by AFP on Tuesday.

The Slovak-born opera star, whose career spanned more than 50 years, died in Zurich on Monday, Munich-based Hilbert Artists Management said.

Born in Bratislava, Gruberová studied in the Slovak capital before making her stage debut as Rosina in Rossini's The Barber of Seville in 1968.

But her real breakthrough came two years later as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Vienna State Opera, a role she would go on to sing 148 times during her career. 

"Grubi", as her fans affectionately called her, appeared regularly at all of the world's major opera houses, specialising in the so-called bel canto repertoire, particularly the works of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini.

She worked with the world's greatest conductors, such as Wolfgang Sawallisch and Herbert von Karajan.

She was feted for her astonishing vocal technique and was especially well-loved in Germany and Austria.

The Vienna State Opera, where Gruberová performed more than 700 times and gave a farewell gala concert in 2018, said it was "mourning the loss of a legend of the opera world".

"Her much-vaunted vocal perfection was never an end in itself, but always in the service of an uncompromising devotion to the music and its best possible interpretation," opera house director Bogdan Roscic said in a statement.

"She will be long remembered as the 'queen of coloratura', including by me personally," Austrian Culture Secretary Andrea Mayer said in a statement cited by the national APA news agency.

"Austria, and Vienna in particular, can consider themselves fortunate that the foundation for her world career was laid here and that she was always happy to return until the end of her career," Mayer said.

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