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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 September 2007, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Thousands bid Pavarotti farewell
The coffin of Luciano Pavarotti
Pavarotti's coffin was covered in his favourite sunflowers
Family and friends of the late opera singer Luciano Pavarotti have paid their final respects to the singer and given him one last standing ovation.

Applause rang out inside the cathedral in his home town of Modena as a recording of a duet the tenor sang with his father was played.

Among the thousands of mourners were stars such as U2's Bono and the tenors Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras.

Pavarotti died on Thursday aged 71, after a long battle against cancer.

The Roman Catholic service culminated in a recording of Pavarotti's famous rendition of Nessun Dorma and a fly-past by the Italian air force.

The singer was then to be buried in a private ceremony at the Montale Rangone cemetery near Modena, alongside members of his family, including his parents and stillborn son Riccardo.

Luciano Pavarotti
Luciano Pavarotti had been suffering from pancreatic cancer
Guests in the cathedral numbered 800 but thousands more people watched the invitation-only service on a huge television screen in Modena's main piazza.

It was also broadcast live on Italian state television and the internet.

The requiem mass was attended by Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and celebrated by Modena's Archbishop, Benito Cocchi.

It began with a moving rendition of Verdi's Ave Maria by Bulgarian-born soprano Raina Kabaivanska, also a resident of Modena who had worked with Pavarotti.

It was followed by a tribute to Pavarotti from Archbishop Cocchi. "The death of Pavarotti has made us feel poorer," he said.

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, and flutist Andrea Griminelli performed.

U2's Bono and his wife Ali Hewson

Pavarotti's white maple casket, covered in his favourite sunflowers lay before the altar, with his wife Nicoletta Mantovani, looking on. Sitting nearby were Pavarotti's three daughters from his first marriage.

A message from Pavarotti's four-year-old daughter, Alice, was read during the service.

"Papa, you have loved me so much, I know you will always protect me. I will hold you dear to my child's heart every tomorrow," it said.

Pavarotti's family had expressed a desire for a private ceremony, but with the attendance of fans, celebrities and politicians, it took on the look and feel of a state event.

Archbishop Cocchi said the presence of so many dignitaries at the funeral was a sign "of the esteem, of the affection and of the gratitude that universally surrounds the great artist".

Pavarotti's widow Nicoletta Mantovani
Pavarotti's widow listened as her daughter's message was read
Also at the funeral was the Italian film-maker Franco Zeffirelli and players from Italian football team Juventus, which Pavarotti supported.

The Italian air force's Frecce Tricolori display team created the green, red and white of the country's flag when it passed over Modena cathedral as the tenor's coffin was brought out at the end of the service.

Modena city officials have estimated that 100,000 people came to pay tribute to Pavarotti and view his coffin since was brought to the cathedral on Thursday night.

Admirers signed books of condolence placed by vases of sunflowers outside the cathedral.

The foreign ministry said similar books would be available for well-wishers at Italian embassies and consulates around the world.




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Funeral service in Modena Cathedral



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