Pavarotti's own life story compared with those of the most colourful operatic characters he brought to life. His great loves included women, family and food.
The son of a baker and a cigar factory worker, young Luciano was raised just outside Modena, the first boy born in the apartment block for 10 years, and thus treated like a young prince by a flock of adoring women.
His mother recognised the quality of young Luciano's singing voice and, in 1955, Pavarotti began his musical studies under the guidance of maestro Ettore Campogalliani. In 1961, he won the prestigious Achille Peri prize for singing.
The same year saw his professional debut in Italy, as Rodolfo in a widely praised performance of La Boheme, and soon his soaring tones could be heard in opera houses across Europe.
Pavarotti enjoyed a fortuitous introduction to British audiences in 1963 when his idol Giuseppe Di Stefano fell ill, and Pavarotti replaced him at the London Palladium.
His La Scala debut took place in 1965, the same year he went on tour with Australian soprano Joan Sutherland. Pavarotti remained forever grateful for what he learned from her about vocal technique and breathing.
He made his debut at his beloved Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1968, and was an international superstar within five years.
For more than 40 years, Luciano Pavarotti cut a most distinctive figure in the operatic world. His rare combination of power and quality marked him out from his peers.
His vast physique enabled his perfect pitch to reach the back of the opera house, but he was also capable of light, delicate phrasing.
At Covent Garden in 1966, playing Tonio in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment, Pavarotti was tricked by his conductor and became the first tenor to hit all nine high C's of the first aria.
Pavarotti joined Domingo and Carreras again under the Eiffel Tower as part of the 1998 World Cup celebrations. This concert was televised to an estimated two billion people, a world record.
In his later years, Pavarotti's fluctuating weight contributed to poor health. He began to eschew the hard graft and variety of opera, in favour of the easy money of mass concerts.
Pavarotti's generosity was recognised by others, though. His annual Pavarotti and Friends charity concert brought performers from the Spice Girls to Bono to his hometown Modena, and he created a music centre for children in Bosnia.
In 2004, the tenor spent the best part of the year giving what he called a farewell celebration tour. It encompassed 40 concerts that took him from Europe, South East Asia, the Middle East and North and South America.
But his increasingly fragile health forced him to cancel many of these planned dates. In 2006, he was diagnosed with a malignant pancreatic tumour.
Although some opera "purists" did not regard him as one of the great tenors, Pavarotti did more than anyone to make opera accessible and fun, by sharing his huge voice and personality with huge audiences.
And his lifestyle was as flamboyant as the characters he played. Luciano Pavarotti was a true maestro for the masses.
Obituary: Luciano Pavarotti - Source BBC News / Other
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