(L-R) The world's famous tenors Jose Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti
and Placido Domingo prior to a 2002 concert in Tokyo.[AFP]
La Scala opera house fell silent Thursday and the two remaining members of the Three Tenors led a chorus of tributes by the giants of opera, presidents and rock stars after the death of Luciano Pavarotti.
A minute's silence was held at the Milan opera house where Pavarotti, who died early Thursday at the age of 71, performed 140 times in a career that spanned four decades.
His was "one of the most beautiful and most moving voices of all time," said La Scala artistic director Stephane Lissner.
Pavarotti had brought opera to the masses through appearances with rock stars and the supergroup he formed with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, The Three Tenors.
"I always admired the God-given glory of his voice -- that unmistakable special timbre from the bottom up to the very top of the tenor range," said Domingo.
Carreras added: "The best memories are the ones in intimacy ... We have to remember him as the great artist he was, a man with such a wonderful charismatic personality."
World leaders and the rock stars that Pavarotti rivalled for public attention also paid tribute.
US President George W. Bush hailed the 71-year-old as "one of the most accomplished and acclaimed opera singers of all time."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: "His artistic qualities as well as his warmth and charisma seduced the entire world."
All of Italy seemed plunged into mourning and Prime Minister Romano Prodi said: "A very great voice of the musical world and of Italy has disappeared."
Police set up a special security cordon around his villa just outside Modena where he died early Thursday after a long battle with cancer.
"We have lost a great tenor, a great singer, but I have lost a great friend," said renowned soprano Mirella Freni, who is also from Modena and who visited Pavarotti in hospital last month.
A passionate football fan, Pavarotti was also remembered by Juventus, the Turin club side he supported all his life.
"Ciao Luciano, with the black and white heart," the club, which plays in a black and white strip, wrote on its official website.
The world of pop also remembered Pavarotti, reflecting his crossover appeal which he nurtured by performing with the likes of Sting, the Spice Girls and U2.
"Some can sing opera, Luciano Pavarotti was an opera," said U2 frontman Bono.
"His opera was a great mash of joy and sadness; surreal and earthy at the same time; a great volcano of a man who sang fire but spilled over with a love of life in all its complexity."
Police frontman Sting, who also sang with Pavarotti, added: "We lost a great friend, a great voice and the world is a smaller place without the big man".
The world of opera must now find a new superstar after Pavarotti's death.
Australian soprano Dame Joan Sutherland, who formed a renowned three decade long stage partnership with Pavarotti said that the so-called "King of the High Cs" ranked among opera's all-time greats.
Describing his voice, Sutherland, who retired in 1990, told BBC radio: "It was incredible to stand next to it and sing along with it ... The quality of the sound was quite different -- you knew immediately it was Luciano singing."
In Austria, the Vienna State Opera and Salzburg Festival Hall raised black flags to mark Pavarotti's passing.
New York's Metropolitan Opera, where Pavarotti performed nearly 400 times, hailed him as grand opera's "greatest symbol."
"Luciano's voice was so extraordinarily beautiful and his delivery so natural and direct that his singing spoke right to the hearts of listeners," said its music chief James Levine.
London's Royal Opera House described Pavarotti as "one of those rare artists who affected the lives of people across the globe in all walks of life."
Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa on Thursday dedicated a performance to the late Luciano Pavarotti, saying the Italian tenor had a voice so distinctive he could recognise it anywhere.
Ozawa, music director of the Vienna State Opera, led his Saito Kinen Orchestra at his summer mountain retreat in Matsumoto in a Ravel pavane and a world premiere by French composer Henri Dutilleux.
"I am shocked and very sad," the conductor said in a statement.
Spanish diva Montserrat Caballe recalled a man of "immense goodness" who had helped her through her own health crisis in 1985.
"He was simply a fantastic person, whom I loved a lot and admired even more," a tearful Caballe told Spain's Cadena Ser radio.
In China, top soprano Yao Hong, who performed with Pavarotti in Beijing: said: "People may not know opera well but they know who Pavarotti is ... his death is a great loss."