Thousands of mourners are bidding farewell to Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti in his hometown of Modena. The opera star died Thursday from cancer and is lying in state inside the city's cathedral as people file past him in a final farewell. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Modena.

Modena's Piazza Grande is crowded with people as mourners quietly make their way into the cathedral where Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti's open coffin allows them to say goodbye one last time.

The Italian singer whose ringing, pristine sound set a standard for operatic tenors of the postwar era, died on Thursday of pancreatic cancer at the age of 71.

Fans filed past the white coffin where Pavarotti is lying in state dressed in a black tuxedo, his hands holding a white handkerchief. Thousands have been pouring into the city to take part in a funeral service, which will be held on Saturday afternoon.

Authorities are preparing for an outpouring of grief at the funeral. Giant television screens were set up near the cathedral so that those outside the cathedral can follow the service.

Among those standing outside the church Friday was someone who knew him well, since he was a child, and even used to kick around a ball with him. Romano Goldoni is 80 years old today and says a monument should be built to Pavarotti because of what he did for Modena.

He was a great figure as a tenor who gave a name to the city of Modena and all its citizens who are extremely grateful to him.

Not faraway at the music school where Pavarotti used to teach, Bulgarian soprano Raina Kaibaivanka had tears in her eyes as she spoke of the loss of a good friend.

She said it's a difficult moment and a very painful one. When a person leaves, you start to realize that this person was precious and enriched your life. Luciano enriched me, she added. He was generous as an artist, as a colleague and as a singing partner.

Pavarotti was the world's best-selling classical artist. He sought to commercialize opera and was thrilled with the success of the "Three Tenors" concerts with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras that reached vast audiences around the world.

Kabaivanska, who performed Tosca at Milan's La Scala theatre more than 20 years ago says that for her Pavarotti was the voice of opera.

She says "I want to remember him as a great opera singer, of melodrama. I do not want to remember him for the concert of the three tenors, for the concerts with Sting or Bono. For me he is a great tenor, a great tenor with a voice kissed by God.

Pavarotti is survived by his second wife, Nicoletta Mantovani, their daughter, Alice, and three daughters from his first marriage.