The world bid a final farewell to opera star Luciano Pavarotti at a music-filled funeral in his hometown of Modena. Mourners gave a final standing ovation to the great tenor as a recording of Pavarotti singing with his father was played at the close of the service. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Modena.

To the music of Verdi's Ave Maria, Bulgarian-born soprano Raina Kabaivanska opened the funeral service for her longtime friend and colleague Luciano Pavarotti in the cathedral of Modena.

Archbishop Benito Cocchi read a message of condolence from Pope Benedict. In it, the pope said Pavarotti had "honored the divine gift of music through his extraordinary interpretative talent."

Pavarotti's white maple casket was covered in sunflowers - his favorite - and laid before the altar. Since his death on Thursday, some 100,000 people of all ages have filed past his coffin in the cathedral, paying last respects to the maestro.

Music resounded throughout the service. Tenor Andrea Bocelli sang Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus."

Family members, close friends as well as dignitaries and celebrities attended the invitation-only service. Among those attending were Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, U2 lead singer Bono, and film director Franco Zeffirelli.

Across Italy admirers watched the service live on television, and thousands of ordinary citizens gathered in the square outside the cathedral and followed the service on a giant screen.

One admirer outside the church said Pavarotti would never die.

He said he is convinced that Pavarotti is not dead because he will continue to live with his voice, with his songs, and he will always remain in our hearts.

Applause broke out as the casket was carried outside the church as loudspeakers amplified a recording of Pavarotti singing arias by Verdi.

As a special honor for a man of humble origins who became Italy's greatest cultural ambassador, an airforce team flew over the cathedral, streaking the sky in the white, red and green colors of the Italian flag.

The tenor was taken to a cemetery near Modena, where members of his family are also buried.