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Pavarotti Receives Last Standing Ovation

Saturday, September 8th 2007 - 21:00 UTC
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Pavarotti dies aged 71 Pavarotti dies aged 71

Luciano Pavarotti's voice rang out a final time inside Modena's cathedral in northern Italy, as a recording of the great tenor singing with his father highlighted a funeral attended by family, dignitaries and close friends.

Guests gave the tenor one last standing ovation as Panis Angelicus, the 1978 duet Pavarotti sang with his father, Fernando, inside Modena's Duomo came to a close. The duet was one of the most poignant moments of the funeral, which began with a moving rendition of Verdi's Ave Maria and a message of condolence from Pope Benedict XVI, saying that Pavarotti had "honoured the divine gift of music through his extraordinary interpretative talent". Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, and flutist Andrea Griminelli performed. Thousands of people watched the invitation-only service from a huge television screen erected in Modena's main piazza, where a recording of the tenor's most famous works had boomed out during two days of public viewing. They watched as Italy's Air Force precision flying team flew over the cathedral at the end of the service, releasing red, white and green smoke in the colours of the Italian flag. Pavarotti's white maple casket, covered in sunflowers - his favourite - lay before the altar, with his wife, Nicoletta Mantovani, looking on. Sitting nearby were Pavarotti's three daughters from his first marriage. On hand were the Italian premier, Romano Prodi, U2 lead singer Bono, film director Franco Zeffirelli and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Also invited were Stephane Lissner, the general manager of Milan's La Scala Opera House, where Pavarotti appeared 140 times, once receiving boos, and the Metropolitan Opera's former general manager, Joe Volpe. The opera great died Thursday in his home on Modena's outskirts after battling pancreatic cancer for more than a year. He was 71. He was beloved by generations of opera-goers and pop fans alike for his breathtaking high Cs and his hearty renditions of folk songs like O Sole Mio and popular tunes like My Way. Modena city officials estimated that 100,000 people had viewed Pavarotti's body in two days. Admirers signed books of condolence placed by vases of sunflowers outside the cathedral. The Foreign Ministry said similar books would be available for well-wishers at Italian embassies and consulates around the world.

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