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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Fans mourn at Pavarotti's coffin
By Christian Fraser
BBC News in Modena, Italy

Man signing visitors' book outside Modena Cathedral
Fans have been signing visitors' books outside Modena Cathedral
Thousands of mourners have been filing past the open coffin of tenor Luciano Pavarotti in the cathedral of his home town of Modena, northern Italy.

More than 10,000 people paid their respects on Thursday evening and Friday morning, local officials said.

The singer's body, lying in a white coffin edged with sumptuous crimson velvet, will remain in place until his funeral on Saturday.

The singer died on Thursday aged 71. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.

The maestro's body has been dressed in his trademark black tuxedo, a white scarf around his neck, the handkerchief he often waved on stage fixed in his left hand.

Mourners queue outside Modena cathedral
Mourners queued to view Pavarotti's coffin in the cathedral
Pavarotti's coffin had been carried into the cathedral by nine pall bearers, with his second wife Nicoletta Mantovani following behind.

There was loud applause from hundreds of people who had gathered in the square to show their appreciation.

Luciano Pavarotti was a world star, but his heart always belonged to the city of Modena.

He was a family man who enjoyed the company of his friends. In the final hours of his life, he insisted they join him for a final game of Briscola, a local card game.

On Friday morning, the three daughters from his first marriage, Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana, came to the cathedral.

"The love for Pavarotti is extremely well deserved and heart warming," Giuliana said.

"The family has been sustained by the warmth of the people. It will be harder to cope with the loss after this is all finished."

Pavarotti's coffin is carried into the cathedral
The opera star's white casket was carried by nine pall bearers
Giuliana's mother Adua Veroni, who Pavarotti left after 35 years of marriage, has still not been seen at the cathedral, although it is believed she will attend on Saturday.

The family has asked for a solemn service - but it will look and feel like a state funeral.

On Friday afternoon, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano came to pay his respects.

Prime Minister Romano Prodi will attend on Saturday, and the service will be taken by the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The funeral will be shown live on national television, and the Italian Tricolore, the equivalent of the red arrows, will stage a fly-by at the end of the service.

Already, the tributes have been coming in from around the world.

The world will seem an emptier place without him, and without his generosity of spirit
Prince Charles
Buckingham Palace said there were no plans to send a member of the Royal Family, although the singer's manager Terri Robson said she has already received "a lovely letter" from Prince Charles.

The Prince and Princess of Wales saw Pavarotti in 1991 in an open-air concert in Hyde Park, when he performed in front of more than 100,000 people.

"I am profoundly grateful to have lived during a period when such a prodigious talent inhabited this Earth," the prince said.

"The world will seem an emptier place without him, and without his generosity of spirit, and our hearts go out to the Italian people at such a sad time."

Jose Carreras
Spanish opera singer Jose Carreras is expected to attend the funeral
Across Modena, the flags have now been tied back, the Italian mark of respect, and many shop windows have signs saying: "Addio Maestro."

The local theatre where he began his career in the early 1960s will be renamed the Pavarotti Theatre.

And from next year - in co-operation with the great Italian opera house La Scala - it will stage an annual singing contest in his honour.

There will, of course, be a long list of celebrities and musicians here on Saturday.

U2 star Bono and the players from his favourite football team Juventus have said they will come.

Private burial

It is thought Spanish tenors Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, with whom he enjoyed enormous success, are also keen to attend.

Pavarotti's great friend, the blind tenor Andrea Bocelli, will sing at the funeral.

The authorities are expecting thousands to gather outside the cathedral during the service, but the burial will be a much more private affair.

From the cathedral, the singer will be moved to the family tomb just outside Modena, where he will be placed alongside his mother and father.


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