Saturday, September 08, 2007

Applause for 'the maestro' in Italy

Ireland On-Line

08/09/2007 - 12:43:31 The voice that captivated millions of fans across the globe boomed out around an Italian piazza today in final tribute to legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Crowds gathering for the funeral of the man known as “The Maestro” burst in to applause as Nessun Dorma, the song for which he was most famous, echoed outside the cathedral in his home town of Modena.

Pavarotti’s body will remain in an open casket inside the 12th century cathedral until two hours before the ceremony, and the public began queuing in the early morning for a last glimpse of the star.

Pavarotti was born in Modena, the son of a miller and a cigar factory worker, and was much-loved in the town.

Every shop window is displaying a photograph of the star and flags on public buildings have been tied back, the Italian mark of respect.

Around 40,000 people are expected to pack the cobbled square and surrounding streets outside, where the service will be relayed on a giant screen.

Millions more will watch across Italy as the ceremony is relayed live on television.

The Frecce Tricolori, Italy’s equivalent of the Red Arrows, will perform a flypast.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and President Giorgio Napolitano are expected to attend, alongside celebrities including U2 frontman Bono.

Singers Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras – who, with Pavarotti, formed the Three Tenors – are also on the guest list, while Andrea Bocelli will perform.

The Prince of Wales has sent a letter of condolence to the family, saying: “I feel grateful to have lived when such a prodigious talent inhabited the Earth... the world will seem an emptier place without him.”

Among the family members attending the funeral will be Pavarotti’s widow, Nicoletta Mantovani, and his three grown up daughters, Cristina, Lorenza and Guiliana, from his first marriage to Adua Veroni.

The tenor married Mantovani, his former assistant and 35 years his junior, in 2003.

She is grief-stricken by his death and has told friends: “A part of me is gone.”

Yesterday, Mantovani was taken into the cathedral via a back entrance with the couple’s four-year-old daughter, Alice, in her arms.

Alice was carrying a crayon picture which she had drawn for her father. It was placed in a bouquet behind his casket.

Pavarotti has been dressed for his funeral as if for a final performance, in tuxedo and scarf, holding a white handkerchief.

He requested a white coffin for his burial, which will take place at the Montale Rangone cemetery on the outskirts of Modena.

The 71-year-old singer died on Thursday morning after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer.

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