WALES: Tenor with sunshine voice dies of cancer; Opera star launched career in Wales.
TRIBUTES poured in yesterday following the death of Luciano Pavarotti - the opera legend who launched his career at the International Eisteddfod.
The world's most popular tenor died, aged 71, following a battle against pancreatic cancer.
In Britain, he will forever be known as the man who brought classical music to the masses with his performance of Puccini's Nessun Dorma, which became the anthem of the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Pavarotti's career started when he sang with the Modena choir at Llangollen's International Eisteddfod in 1955.
He was training to be a school teacher at the time, but the experience changed his life and set him on the path to international singing stardom.
He returned to Llangollen in 1995 to enthral the audience in the Royal International Pavilion at the Eisteddfod - a concert which is still talked about today.
And the Italian-born star added his name to the festival's prestigious Choir of the World competition in 2005.
Yesterday, International Eisteddfod chief executive Gwyn L Williams said: "He sent us a video message and said he regarded his experience in Llangollen 1955, with his father Fernando's choir, as the inspiration for him to become a professional singer.
"As somebody once said, the man had sunshine in his voice."
Selwyn Evans, who sits on the International Eisteddfod board, was at Pavarotti's sell-out concert in 1995, which also had 2,000 people outside.
"It was an extraordinary evening and a wonderful experience," he said.
"He was a charming man, very down-to-earth."
North Wales opera star Bryn Terfel said: "I am deeply saddened by the news of Luciano Pavarotti's death - a truly inspirational and awe-inspiring artist with a voice of pure gold.
"His premiership voice put us all into the second division."
And countrywoman Kather-ine Jenkins said: "His talent and voice were unique and can never be replaced.
"He'll be dearly missed by millions of people within and beyond the world of opera music."
Pavarotti stayed at the Bryn Howel Hotel during his 1995 concert for three nights.
Yesterday former general manager John Lloyd, whose family owned the hotel at the time, spoke with fondness remembering the maestro's time there.
Mr Lloyd said: "He was charming, a huge character, with a massive presence, aura and he had a great sense of humour.
"He commanded respect and gave respect. He was an incredibly warm character, open and receptive to everyone.
"When Pavarotti stayed here it was an absolute delight and privilege.
"When Pavarotti arrived in his car a Scandinavian choir burst into song to welcome him here.
Opera star Placido Domingo, who also sang at the International Eisteddfod in 1968, said: "I loved his wonderful sense of humour. On several of our concerts with Jose Carreras - the so-called Three Tenors concerts - we had trouble remembering that we were giving a concert before a paying audience, because we had so much fun between ourselves."
Llangollen Enterprise chairwoman Judith Dodd said: "It is a great loss to the world of music and Llangollen."
Luciano Pavarotti and his father at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod 1955 with Chorale G Rossini di Modena and (top) both back in Llangollen in 1995