We, at MAXINE, do not even understand Italian and were deeply moved during the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics from Torino, Italy. The sense of sound was given a special purpose when Luciano Pavarotti began to sing.
Excerpts from Associated Press via Google News -
World Bids Farewell to Luciano Pavarotti
By COLLEEN BARRY – 7:10 AM PST, USA – Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007
MODENA, Italy (AP) — Verdi's "Ave Maria" wafted through Modena's cathedral on Saturday as the world bade farewell to Luciano Pavarotti with a funeral close to his classical roots, attended by family, dignitaries and close friends and followed by admirers around the world.
Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram of condolence, which was read out at the start of the service. He said Pavarotti had "honored the divine gift of music through his extraordinary interpretative talent."
Thousands of people watched the invitation-only service from a huge television screen erected in Modena's main piazza, where a recording of the tenor's most famous works boomed out during two days of public viewing.
Pavarotti's white maple casket, covered in sunflowers — his favorite — lay before the altar, with his wife, Nicoletta Mantovani, looking on. Sitting nearby were Pavarotti's three daughters from his first marriage.
The opera super star had been lying in state in the cathedral since Thursday following his death from cancer earlier that morning. Image Credit: AP via BBC NEWS
He died Thursday in his home on Modena's outskirts after battling pancreatic cancer for more than a year. He was 71 and was beloved by generations of opera-goers and pop fans alike for his breathtaking high "Cs" and his hearty renditions of folk songs like "O Sole Mio," and popular tunes like "My Way."
City officials said 87,000 memorial cards had been handed out to well-wishers.
Admirers signed books of condolences placed by vases of sunflowers outside the cathedral. The Foreign Ministry said similar books would be available for signing at Italian embassies and consulates around the world.
Bulgarian-born soprano Raina Kabaivanska, a fellow Modena resident who had worked with Pavarotti, cried as she sang the "Ave Maria" from Verdi's "Otello" as the ceremony began.
Tenor Andrea Bocelli was to sing Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus" while the Rossini Chorus performed hymns throughout the service, which was celebrated by Modena Archbishop Benito Cocchi and 18 other priests.
Pavarotti's body, dressed in a black tuxedo and with his hands clutching his trademark white handkerchief, had been on public display inside the cathdral since Thursday night.
"He was our Italian flag. He was the best representation that we could have," said Susy Cavallini, a 43-year-old Modena resident as she emerged Saturday from the cathedral. "Modena is known for its cappelletti (a type of tortellini), balsamic vinegar, Ferrari and Pavarotti. It's a collection of important things that Modena has given to the world."
Among those at the funeral were Premier Romano Prodi and Italy's culture minister, Francesco Rutelli, Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli and the former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Also expected were U2 lead singer Bono, Stephane Lissner, general manager of Milan's La Scala Opera House, where Pavarotti appeared 140 times, once receiving boos; and the Metropolitan Opera's former general manager Joe Volpe.
The tenor was to be buried in Montale Rangone cemetery, near Modena, where members of his family, including his parents and stillborn son Riccardo, are buried.
Pavarotti's classical career, with his imposing presence, emotional depth and boyish, charming ease all adding to his technical prowess, was the stuff of opera legend. Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, presenting a new CD in Rome on Friday, recalled the first time she heard Pavarotti sing, many years ago, at the Metropolitan Opera House. "I said to myself: God does exist," Bartoli was quoted by the news agency Ansa as saying.
But his legacy reached beyond the opera houses to reach the masses, working with fellow opera stars and pop icons alike.
These far-from-the-opera house performances, including memorable nights under the stars at Rome's ancient Baths of Caracalla with Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo, in the "Three Tenors" concert, rescued musical art from highbrow obscurity.
Pavarotti was the best-selling classical artist, with more than 100 million records sold since the 1960s, and he had the first classical album to reach No. 1 on the pop charts.