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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 10:05 GMT
Funeral for opera singer Tebaldi
Opera singer Katia Ricciarelli was among mourners at the funeral
The funeral of Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi, one of the 20th Century's greatest opera stars, has taken place in her home town of San Marino.

Tebaldi died at home at the age of 82 on Sunday after a period of illness.

Among those attending the private ceremony in the tiny independent republic of San Marino was fellow Italian opera singer Katia Ricciarelli.

A public memorial service will be held later on Wednesday in front of La Scala opera house in Milan.

La Scala's musical director, Riccardo Muti, is expected to pay tribute at the service.

Tebaldi will be buried in the family chapel in Langhirano, central Italy.

Renata Tebaldi on a 1958 cover of Time magazine
Tebaldi graced the cover of Time magazine in November 1958

Born in Pesaro, Tebaldi made her debut in 1944 but her career took off after performing at a concert to mark the re-opening of La Scala, Milan, in 1946.

She was chosen by conductor Arturo Toscanini to sing at the re-opening celebration concert at La Scala, which had been shut during World War II, perfoming the soprano part in Giuseppe Verdi's Te Deum.

Toscanini said she had the "voice of an angel".

She went on to sing at the great opera houses of the world but retired in the 1970s due to problems with her vocal chords.

At the height of her career she was always seen as a great rival to Maria Callas, dividing opinion in the opera world. Her last concert took place in 1976.

Paying tribute, Luciano Pavarotti said she was also "an angelic person".

"Farewell, Renata, your memory and your voice will be etched on my heart forever," he said.

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