Thousands Attend Pavarotti's Funeral as Millions Watch on TV

Classic Arts News   Thousands Attend Pavarotti's Funeral as Millions Watch on TV
Luciano Pavarotti received a final standing ovation from thousands of mourners this weekend in the central square of Modena, his hometown in the north of Italy, at the conclusion of his funeral on Saturday (Sept. 8).

The tenor, probably the most famous classical singer on earth, died at home last week of pancreatic cancer.

More than 100,000 people filed through Modena's cathedral and plaza over the past several days, according to The New York Times, to pay final respects to Pavarotti, who lay in state dressed in a tuxedo, clutching a silver rosary in one hand and his trademark white silk handkerchief in the other.

More than 700 invited guests attended the funeral Mass, according to the Associated Press, with Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, director Franco Zeffirelli and rock star Bono among them. Bulgarian-born soprano Raina Kabaivanska, long a resident of Modena and friend of Pavarotti, sang during the service (tears streaming down her face), as did the crossover tenor Andrea Bocelli, according to the AP. Longstanding family tensions were transcended for a time as the tenor's first and second wives, each with her children, sat in the front row.

About 50,000 mourners filled the square outside the cathedral to watch the funeral on large outdoor screens, according to Reuters; millions more watched the live broadcast on Italian television.

A 1978 recording of Franck's "Panis angelicus" featuring Pavarotti in duet with his father was played toward the end of the service, according to the Times, and afterwards the crowd inside and outside the cathedral gave the tenor a final standing ovation.

As the pallbearers emerged from the cathedral with Pavarotti's casket, a recording of the tenor singing his signature tune, "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's Turandot, resounded through the plaza as a special squadron from the Italian air force flew overhead, trailing vapor in red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag.

Pavarotti's remains were interred at Montale Rangone cemetery, near his parents and his son Riccardo, the stillborn twin brother of his four-year-old daughter Alice.

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