Among the guests at the funeral were Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister; Bono, leader of rock group U2; Franco Zeffirelli, film director; and Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general.

Friends of Pavarotti performed the mass which was broadcast live on state television and the internet.

Raina Kabaivanska, the Bulgarian soprano, opened the service with Ave Maria from Verdi's Otello. Andrea Bocelli, the blind Italian tenor, then sang Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus during the Eucharist.
   
The choir - Corale Rossini - was the same one in which both Pavarotti and his father once sang.

'Divine gift'

Pope Benedict XVI sent a message of condolence to the funeral, saying Pavarotti had "honoured the divine gift of music through his extraordinary interpretative talent".

Thousands of people watched the service from a huge television screen erected in Modena's main piazza, where a recording of the tenor's most famous works had played during two days of public viewing.

Italy's air force precision flying team
  flew over the cathedral [AFP]
More than 100,000 people had filed past Pavarotti's coffin before the funeral.

At the end of the service, Italy's air force precision flying team flew over the cathedral releasing red, white and green smoke, the colours of the Italian flag.

Admirers signed books of condolence outside the cathedral and the Italian foreign ministry said similar books would be available for well-wishers at embassies and consulates around the world.

After an operation for pancreatic cancer in July last year, Pavarotti had hoped to complete a farewell world tour but he died on Thursday at the age of 71.

Pavarotti shot to fame as an understudy in a performance of La Boheme at London's Covent Garden in 1963.
 
In 1972 he brought the house down at New York's Metropolitan Opera by hitting nine high C notes in a row.
   
He went on to popularise what had been an elite art form, performing as one of the Three Tenors with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras in Rome during the 1990 soccer World Cup in Italy.
   
Nessun Dorma, the aria from Puccini's Turandot, will be played before the Euro 2008 football qualifying matches being played by the Italian and English national teams on Saturday.

The celebrities with whom Pavarotti worked over the years were expected to be invited to a memorial charity event in the coming months, Pavarotti's manager, Terri Robson, said.