A final ovation was given for the world tenor Luciano Pavarotti in Modena, Italy yesterday. He drew a crowd to his invitation only funeral that was comparable to any of his shows in life. People filled the square surrounding the church and the service was broadcast worldwide over the internet.
Bono of U2 and his wife Ali Hewson,film director Franco Zeffirelli, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and his wife Nane, and many performers paid their respect in song as well. Pavarotti’s widow Nicoletta Mantovani, and ex-wife Adua sat an opposite ends of the same pew.
Bulgarian soprano Raina Kabaivanska opened the service, amid the cathedral’s gilded frescos, with Ave Maria from Verdi’s Otello. Another of Pavarotti’s friends, blind Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, sang Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus.
And he couldn’t go without a big finale.
Fourteen pallbearers carried the coffin out of the cathedral to applause and cheers of “bravo” from the crowd as a recording of his most famous aria — “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot” — played over loudspeakers.
As Pavarotti sang the song’s famous line “All’alba vincero'” — “At dawn I will be victorious” — the air force’s aerobatics team soared above the church, marking the blue sky with the green, white and red smoke in the colors of the Italian flag.