MODENA, Italy, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- The funeral for opera legend Luciano Pavarotti took place Saturday in his hometown Modena as tens of thousands mourners gathered at Modena's cathedral to pay their final respects to the great Italian tenor.
Among the dignitaries at the funeral were Italian Premier Romano Prodi, Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Group Photos: Mourners bid farewell to Pavarotti
Luciano Pavarotti's coffin is carried into Modena's Romanesque cathedral before the funeral mass in tribute to Italy's opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti. Music and film stars joined top political figures and tens of thousands of tearful fans to honour Pavarotti at his funeral Saturday. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
During a funeral eulogy in Modena's medieval cathedral, Prodi said that Pavarotti was a musical genius who used his talent to spread peace and brotherhood in the world.
The Italian tenor employed his musical artistry "as an instrument for life and against war," said a visibly shaken Prodi.
"Pavarotti was not only a great artist but also a messenger of peace and brotherhood. He was a messenger of peace in areas where mankind's pain is felt keenest. The fact that the former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan is here is an indication of how strong Pavarotti's feeling of kinship with mankind's fate were throughout his life".
Local people and foreign fans who rushed to the hometown of Pavarotti in northern Italy watched the service on a huge television screen erected in Modena's main piazza.
The U2 frontman Bono was greeted by a round of applause on Saturday as he arrived for the funeral of his friend Luciano Pavarotti.
Luciano Pavarotti's widow Nicoletta Mantovani(TopL) follows the coffin of Maestro Luciano Pavarotti at the "Duomo di Modena" in the Italian city of Modena. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
Pavarotti joined forces with U2 in 1995 to write the song Miss Sarajevo and Bono participated in many of the tenor's humanitarian gestures.
Other celebrities who attended the ceremony included film director Franco Zeffirelli, Italian singers Zucchero and Gianni Morandi, ballerina Carla Fracci.
Soprano Mirella Freni, a close friend of Pavarotti's broke into tears when she told Italian state broadcaster RAI she had been too heartbroken to sing at the funeral.
Mourners included the tenor's second wife, Nicoletta Mantovani, holding Alice in her arms, and his first wife Adua Veroni with their three daughters, who are all in their 40s.
After the funeral, the tenor, who died from cancer early Thursday at the age of 71, will be laid to rest at a local cemetery alongside his parents.
Italian Premier Romano Prodi has put off a state visit to Slovenia to attend the funeral.