Reuters, citing the Italian news agencies ANSA and AGI, says that the 71-year-old tenor has suffered kidney failure and that cancer specialists are now attending him at his home in Modena. ANSA has reported that Pavarotti has briefly lost consciousness several times in recent days, according to Reuters, and Modena television station ê_TV Antenna Uno has stated that family and friends are gathering to say their farewells.
Just eleven days ago, Pavarotti was released from the Modena Polyclinic, where he had spent two-and-a-half weeks after being admitted for a high fever. Doctors had given him clearance to return home after a week, though he decided to remain in the hospital to recuperate further.
In July of last year physicians in New York found and removed a cancerous mass from Pavarotti's pancreas; he has been undergoing treatment in Modena ever since.
Last December the tenor was forced to cancel his first scheduled public appearance; his health was said to have improved in recent months, however, and he was even reported to be working on a new recording.
News of Pavarotti's worsening condition arrives just one day after the Italian government announced a new award, the Premio per l'Eccellenza nella Cultura Italiana (Prize for Excellence in Italian Culture), of which the tenor was named the inaugural recipient. (According to Deutsche Presse-Agentur, in future the award, to consist of a medal and certificate, will be given twice a year.)
National culture minister Francesco Rutelli alluded to Pavarotti's illness in his remarks on the prize last night: "In these days, one of the greatest of Italians is conducting a major battle against illness with the same determination ... as he showed in his formidable career," Rutelli said, as quoted on Time magazine's website. "In light of everything, we didn't want him to miss formal recognition."
Those particular words, along with the sudden announcement of the prize, are being taken by some journalists (including Time's reporter) as a further indication that Pavarotti's remaining time is short. In what Britain's Daily Telegraph is already suggesting may have been his final public remarks, the singer gave his thanks for the Premio in a statement: "It fills me with joy and pride that my long career has been recognized, in which I have had the honor of being the standard bearer for Italian culture ... I am overcome with gratitude and emotion at this prize which will celebrate the magic of a life spent in art, and will open doors for the young."