Luciano Pavarotti, whose vibrant high C's and ebullient showmanship made him the most beloved and celebrated tenor since Caruso and one of the few opera's biggest superstar of the late 20th century, died Thursday. He was 71.
His manager, Terri Robson, told the AP in an e-mailed statement that Pavarotti died at his home in Modena, Italy, at 5 a.m. local time. Pavarotti had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and underwent further treatment in August.
"The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterized his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness," the statement said.
Pavarotti's assistant Edwin Tinoco told Sky TG 24 television that Pavarotti's final days had been calm and spent at home.
For serious fans, the unforced beauty and thrilling urgency of Pavarotti's voice made him the ideal interpreter of the Italian lyric repertory, especially in the 1960s and '70s when he first achieved stardom. For millions more, his charismatic performances of standards like "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" came to represent what opera is all about.
In fact, "Nessun Dorma" was Pavarotti's last performance, sung at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in February 2006. His farewell to opera was in Puccini's "Tosca" at New York's Metropolitan in March 2004.
It was the second monumental loss in the opera world in recent months. American soprano Beverly Sills died July 2 at her home in New York. She was 78 and suffered from cancer.
"Pavarotti is the biggest superstar of all," the late New York Times music critic Harold Schonberg once said.
In his heyday, he was known as the "King of the High C's" for the ease with which he tossed off difficult top notes.
Pavarotti starred in a film called "Yes, Giorgio" and he wrote an autobiography, "I, Luciano Pavarotti."
Just this week, the Italian government honored him with an award for "excellence in Italian culture".
In his final statement, Pavarotti said the award gave him "the opportunity to continue to celebrate the magic of a life dedicated to the arts and it fills me with pride and joy to have been able to promote my magnificent country abroad."
Pavarotti had three daughters with his first wife, Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana; and one, Alice, with his second wife.
At his side when he died were his wife, Nicoletta; his four daughters; his sister, Gabriela; his nephews and close relatives and friends, Robson said.