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World deplores Pavarotti

06.09.2007 | Source:

AP ©

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World deplores Pavarotti

The world paid homage to the thrilling voice and exuberant personality of Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Amid an outpouring of tributes, the Vienna State Opera raised a black flag in mourning, the Guards band at Buckingham Palace played Pavarotti's signature aria "Nessun Dorma" at the Changing of the Guard ceremony, and the tenor's northern Italian hometown of Modena said it would name the city's theater after its native son.

Hundreds of people filled Modena's main piazza late Thursday to pay their final respects as Pavarotti's casket arrived in the cathedral for a public viewing that would last until his Saturday funeral.

"The whole world will be listening today to his voice on every radio and television station. And that will continue. And that is his legacy. He will never stop," said conductor Zubin Mehta, who directed Pavarotti in Rome and Los Angeles for his "Three Tenors" concerts with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras.

"I always admired the God-given glory of his voice - that unmistakable special timbre from the bottom up to the very top of the tenor range," Domingo said in a statement from Los Angeles. "They threw away the mold when they made Luciano. He will always be remembered as a truly unique performer in the annals of classical music."

Carreras said he would remember Pavarotti as one of the "most important tenors of all times."

"We have to remember him as the great artist that he was, the man with such a wonderful charismatic personality, very good friend and a great poker player," Carreras said in a video clip recorded by Swedish newspaper Expressen.

Pavarotti died early Thursday at his home in Modena after battling pancreatic cancer since last year, his manager Terri Robson said in a statement.

"The world has lost a great tenor, but I've lost a great friend, a brother," Mirella Freni, an opera great and one of Pavarotti's close childhood friends told The Associated Press. "We grew up together, studied singing and God blessed us with great careers. I've lost a brother."

U.S. President George W. Bush said he and his wife Laura were joining Pavarotti's fans and family in mourning.

"From singing with his father in a small church choir near Modena, Italy, to performing in sold-out stadiums in America and all across the world, Pavarotti entertained audiences with his perfect pitch and charismatic interpretations," Bush said in a statement.

Venice's La Fenice theater flew flags at half staff and planned a minute of silence at Thursday's performance. Thursday night's Proms concert, part of an eight-week summer festival of classical music concerts put on by the British Broadcasting Corp., was dedicated to Pavarotti's memory, the BBC said.

"Luciano's voice was so extraordinarily beautiful and his delivery so natural and direct that his singing spoke right to the hearts of listeners whether they knew anything about opera or not," said James Levine, who was conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Thursday.

Milan's storied La Scala, where Pavarotti performed 140 times, said that as Pavarotti's illness worsened, it had decided to create a joint international singing competition with Modena's theater to ensure his legacy continued.

"With him a splendid era of opera singing is entrusted to history," La Scala superintendent Stephane Lissner said in a statement.

Italians remembered Pavarotti as an ambassador of Italian style and culture abroad. In a telegram to the star's family, Premier Romano Prodi gave Pavarotti "a last, grateful, applause," thanking him for "bringing to the world the most authentic artistic image of our country."

For fans and colleagues, the beauty of Pavarotti's voice and his charismatic performances made him the ideal interpreter of the Italian lyric repertory, especially in the 1960s and '70s when he first achieved stardom.

"It was incredible to stand next to it and sing along with it," soprano Joan Sutherland said of Pavarotti's voice at the time.

A 14-week tour of Australia with Sutherland and her husband, conductor Richard Bonynge, gave Pavarotti the recognition he needed to launch his career. He also credited Sutherland with teaching him how to breathe correctly.

"My husband ... and I had great joy working with him. The quality of the sound was so different. You knew immediately it was Luciano singing," Sutherland told BBC radio.

Soprano Renee Fleming, preparing for a performance in Matsumoto, Japan, remembered singing with Pavarotti during a telecast at Lincoln Center.

"He had the most perfect technique in the history of recorded music," she said in an e-mail to The AP. "

But Pavarotti's voice was just the beginning.

The U.N. refugee agency recalled how his "Pavarotti & Friends" benefit concerts with top rock stars helped collect US$7 million for displaced people in various conflict areas, from Kosovo to Afghanistan to Angola.

U2 singer Bono said Pavarotti was "a great volcano of a man who sang fire but spilled over with a love of life in all its complexity," while Elton John, who sang the duet "Live Like Horses" with Pavarotti in 1996, said the tenor's death marked "a sad day for music and a sad day for the world."

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