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Eisteddfod win convinced tenor to pursue a career in music.

A performance at a Welsh festival more than 50 years ago convinced Luciano Pavarotti that he should pursue a career in music. Welsh stars last night paid tribute to the world famous tenor, who, in 1955, sang as a member of his father's choir, the Rossini Choral Society from Modena, at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

The choir went on to win the male voice choir competition and Pavarotti changed his mind about training to become a teacher - he went on to become arguably the world's greatest ever tenor.

Four decades later, in 1995, he returned to the eisteddfod with his father, Fernando, to entertain audiences. They were also joint day presidents.

Today the winners of the choir of the world competition are now awarded the Pavarotti Trophy.

Last night the eisteddfod's former secretary, Bob Attenburrow , said they were sad to hear of Pavarotti's death.

"He was so very important to us here and it meant so much when he came back in 1995," said Mr Attenburrow.

"He had a soft spot for the eisteddfod - he changed his career because his father's choir won at the eisteddfod.

"He really put us on the map."

Chart-topping mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins, 27, believes Pavarotti played a "massive part" in popularising classical music.

"His talent and voice were unique and can never be replaced," said the Neath-born singer.

"He'll be dearly missed by millions of people within and beyond the world of opera music."

International bass baritone Bryn Terfel said he was deeply saddened by Pavarotti's death.

"(He was) a truly inspirational and awe-inspiring artist with a voice of pure gold," he said.

"His premiership voice put us all into the second division."

Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts said he broke down in tears when he heard of Pavarotti's death.

The 36-year-old former mobile phone salesman, who lives in Port Talbot, was inspired to take up opera singing after hearing the legendary Italian tenor when he was a teenager.

And he met his idol seven years ago when he moved to Italy to attend opera classes with Pavarotti. He spent two summers touring northern Italy with a major opera school and took master classes with top stars. Potts even got to sing in a masterclass for Pavarotti - one of the highlights of his career.

He said yesterday, "Pavarotti was one of my inspirations for singing and the world has lost an inspirational artist. He had fantastic natural technique which few people could match."

Potts won a pounds 1m recording contract on the TV talent show singing the Pavarotti favourite Nessun Dorma by Puccini.

Among Pavarotti's close friends were Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis, a former president of the Italian's record company, Decca.

Mr Lewis spent two years working with Pavarotti when he was head of the company.

Speaking from France on the eve of this year's Rugby World Cup tournament, Mr Lewis told the BBC that Pavarotti's death was "very sad indeed".

He said,"It was through the voice that his great personality shone.

"It was a unique sound and in the repertoire particularly of Puccini, Verdi and those sorts of things, it was authentic. You could taste the pasta, you could feel the sun of Italy on your face when Pavarotti sang.

"I saw him last at his final performance in the UK when he performed Tosca at the Royal Opera House."

Mr Lewis said that, although they were good friends, he still could not believe that he was standing next to Pavarotti backstage at Covent Garden during his final recital in the UK.

"Here was one of the greatest voices in the world, and he was just about to go onstage, he was in his tails, and he turned to me and squeezed my arm very firmly and he said, 'My friend, pray for me.' "And the shivers just went down my neck because here's the greatest voice in the world and he's still got those stage nerves.": FROM PAGE 7: Key dates in Luciano Pavarotti's life:October 12, 1935: Pavarotti born in Modena, Italy; 1961: Wins a local competition and with it a debut as Rodolfo in Puccini's La Boheme, in Reggio Emilia, a city not far from his native town; Marries Adua Veroni, with whom he will have three daughters; 1963: Appears at Covent Garden in London, where he stands in for tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano as Rodolfo; 1965: Appears at La Scala theatre in Milan; 1968: Appears at New York's Metropolitan Opera House and in San Francisco; 1981: Takes part in film Yes Giorgio; 1982: Takes part in film Rigoletto;

1982: First sings in Aida for the San Francisco Opera;

1988: His recording of Volare goes platinum;

1989: Debuts as director in La Favorita;

1990: Performs in Hyde Park, London, to celebrate 30 years of his career;

1990: Performs with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, on the final weekend of the World Cup. The trio were dubbed The Three Tenors, and they sang together at three more World Cup finals;

1993: Recording of the Pavarotti & Friends charity concert in Modena featuring Sting, Lucio Dalla and Zucchero;

1994: Tours Asia;

1995: Sets up "Pavarotti International" concert for Bosnia, tours South America;

1996: Is accused of filing false tax returns for 1989-91;

1997: Performs in Moscow's Red Square;

2000: Agrees to pay nearly 25 billion lire (roughly pounds 6m) to the Italian state after he had unsuccessfully claimed that the tax haven of Monte Carlo rather than Italy was his official residence;

December 2003: Marries his long-time companion, Nicoletta Mantovani;

March 2004: Gives his final performance in staged opera at New York's Metropolitan Opera House and announces that he will begin a 40-date farewell tour around the world;

September 2005: Receives a British honour in recognition of his fundraising and humanitarian work with the Red Cross;

February 2006: Performs Nessun Dorma, from Puccini's Turandot at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Is also declared honorary citizen by Sarajevo's authorities because of his support for Bosnia during the 1992-95 war; July 2006: Doctors discover a malignant pancreatic mass as Pavarotti is preparing to leave New York to resume a farewell tour. He has surgery; August 2007: Undergoes further treatment at a hospital in Modena; September 6, 2007: Dies at his home in Modena.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Sep 7, 2007
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