Friday, September 28, 2007

A response to Danny Donellan - How many times must I get scammed? 77 times?

Sometime ago, blogger Danny Donellan from the Prodigal Son blog, which has sadly been deleted( and which I hope Danny will re-start *wink, *wink), posted something about feeling like he was being scammed after helping some people who turned up at his door.

I wrote a comment, but before I was able to post it, Danny had deleted his blog... and his email =)

So, here's what I wrote:

I was once at an area group meeting and an old man shared a story about how he always fell victim to scams because of his trusting nature and his desire to help people. He then went on to relate about he was just scammed again the morning before and, after scoldings from his wife and the neighbours, he’d decided not to help again should a vagrant ever ask.

I, of course, counselled against this. Here’s what I told him:
People are generally proud. They have their dignity and most people I know, myself included, would be very loath to ask for help, any help at all. Even for directions =) For an ordinary person to ask for assistance, he would be really down and out. Especially in Asian societies where there is the concept of ‘face’ and asking for something, showing weakness, means a loss of ‘face’. So to be in a condition where one is forced to ask for help, one would be really down and out and in a rather vulnerable and emotional state.

Now put yourself in their shoes. Imagine if you were really in trouble one day and, overcoming your inhibitions, your fear of rejection, your loss of ‘face’, you summoned enough courage to ask for help. Then imagine if all those you approached turned you down because they have frequently been cheated and all their family and friends accused them of being gullible. You come along, a genuine person in need and you get turned away, over and over again. How would you feel? Pretty bad, I would think.

Let’s look at it another way. Let’s get back in your shoes. You get frequently scammed. And then a genuine person in need turns up and you turn them away, thinking that they are scammers. How would they feel?

And if you found out, at some point later, that you turned away a genuine person in need because you were too cautious and wary, how would you feel then? Worse than you would feel if you had been scammed? “If I had only helped him/her… I wish was not so untrusting”

How would I go about helping? Hmmmm. In most cases, if I am able to and someone says he’s hungry for example, I’d buy him or her a meal rather than give money. But when I have no choice, money would have to serve. But within limits.

I’m scammed quite often as well. There’s a man in Church who often asks for money and I usually oblige when I’m able to. One day, he told me a story of wanting to travel for a job or something over Christmas and I gave him a rather large sum, for the trip and for Christmas. But the next week, I saw him again in Church. And the next week. The following week, he again asked for money and I confronted him and he confessed to using the money I gave to buy a radio. =(

There are many reasons why people stop helping strangers. Getting frequently scammed is a reason. But sometimes, we are turned off from giving because the person we helped did not thank us, or show gratitude. This should never be a reason as the Gospel teaches us to give to those who cannot repay us back on this earth. Another reason is being ridiculed for helping out. Again, this is not an acceptable reason.

The point of the matter is this. Christians and human beings in general, are called to help another in need, to be a neighbour to all. It’s pre-programmed into our system, written on our hearts as it were. It’s one of the things that make us human. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of de-programming to overcome this natural instinct to help another in need.

And I for one would rather help 99 scammers in the hope of helping one truly needy person that beat the 99 scammers and unintentionally turning a person in need away.

Now, I’m not advocating that we fall for silly scams and tricks nor am I advocating gullibility. If someone comes along flashing a Rolex and asks for a buck or presents a ludicrous story that has more holes than a fishing net, by all means refuse. If people have warned you about such and such a person who goes around telling this and that story, then be on guard. But what I’m saying is, when in doubt, then help out. Not to the point of impoverishing yourself, of course, but within reason, do help out. Most probably it’s going to be a scam and you’d probably just been made a fool of.

But in the oft chance that Jesus comes knocking in the guise of a down and out Gypsy woman, I wouldn’t want to be the one who turned the Lord away =)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why Hell Exists

Otherwise, where do you put people like this?

Man urinates on dying woman, declaring it 'YouTube material'

From the "Annals of Modern Depravity" comes this sordid story:

Shouting, "This is YouTube material!" a 27-year-old British man urinated on a dying woman who had collapsed on the street, the BBC and local Hartepool Mail and Northern Echo tell us. He also doused her with a bucket of water and covered her with shaving cream.

The woman, 50-year-old Christine Lakinski, died at the scene of pancreatic failure.

In a sad sign of the times, it was all recorded on a mobile phone.

In court, Anthony Anderson said he had smoked a joint and been drinking with two friends when they spotted Lakinski. He faces jail after pleading guilty to "outraging public decency." Sentencing is set for Oct. 22.

"We will await the outcome and just hope he gets what he deserves," Lakinski's brother said after today's court hearing.

And also

Ga. man accused of feeding kittens, cats to pit bull


Here's another item from our "Annals of Modern Depravity," if you dare.

A 21-year-old Georgia man is accused of capturing kittens and cats and feeding them to his pit bull.

Tye Hilmo was charged today with aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony. If convicted, he faces one to five years in the human pen and/or a fine of up to $15,000.

"It's sick," said Stacey Bourbonnais of the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department. "It's indescribable and sick that people would do this kind of thing to and with animals."

No dog-fighting charges have been filed. But Hilmo is sitting in jail on drug and weapons counts resulting from his Sept. 10 arrest after police investigated animal-cruelty charges. Here's a list of charges.

H/T: Gerald.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Anglican (Episcopal) Bishop swims the Tiber

The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, the current Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande, will resign and seek full communion with the Catholic Church. The Episcopal Church is the US branch of the Anglican Church and Bishop Steenson is the third Anglican Bishop this year to jump.

It's very brave for these men to convert to the Catholic Church, knowing that they would lose their pension and allowance, their livelihood and possible their friends and coming from a warm atmosphere into a Church where the people might seem cool, aloof and even perplexed and downright hostile about their conversion. Their new Bishop and priests might even be hostile. And they're coming from a position of authority and power to be just a lay person, albeit ordination might lie in the future. But the most they can hope for is sacerdotal ordination. That's quite a lot to give up. But I guess that these men have put into practice the Gospel dictum to sell everything for the Pearl of Great Price, for the Gospel of Christ and for His Church.

Here's the news:

[Episcopal News Service] In a September 21 letter to the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, Bishop Jeffrey Steenson said he intends to ask the House of Bishops meeting currently underway in New Orleans for permission to resign as the diocese's bishop.

Steenson was elected the eighth bishop of the diocese on October 24, 2004. He was consecrated as the 1000th bishop in the Episcopal Church on January 16, 2005, and installed on October 8, 2005 at the Cathedral Church of St. John in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Calling it a "very difficult letter to write as your bishop and colleague in the ordained ministry," Steenson wrote that "my conscience is deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading, and this has become a crisis for me because of my ordination vow to uphold its doctrine, discipline, and worship."

"An effective leader cannot be so conflicted about the guiding principles of the Church he serves," Steenson continued. "It concerns me that this has affected my ability to lead this diocese with a clear and hopeful vision for its mission. I also have sensed how important it is for those of us in this position to model a gracious way to leave the Episcopal Church in a manner respectful of its laws."

Just days before his letter, Steenson helped broker a deal that allowed a majority of the members of the diocese's Pro Cathedral Episcopal Church of St. Clement in El Paso, Texas, to sever ties with the diocese and the Episcopal Church and buy the cathedral property for $2 million.

Steenson told the St. Clement's members in a letter prior to the September 16 parish vote that he "personally agree[d] with the leadership of St. Clement's about where the Episcopal Church seems to be heading."

"But as a bishop under the authority of this Church there are certain obligations and responsibilities to be observed," he added, going on to summarize what he called "the perspective of the Episcopal Church" which holds "that all real and personal property of a congregation is owned not by the local congregation but by the Diocese and Episcopal Church" and that parishes cannot be dissolved by congregational votes.

Steenson said in that letter that, being bound by those rules, he, the trustees of the diocese, the standing committee and the diocese were "willing to try to find a negotiated settlement that may allow St. Clement's to become an independent congregation with its existing facilities."

Steenson's resignation had been rumored for weeks, with speculation that he would join the Roman Catholic Church. He did not spell out his intention in the September 21 letter, except to say that "many of you already know of my love for the Catholic Church and my conviction that this is the true home of Anglicanism."

"I will not dwell on this, however, so as not to lose sight of my responsibility to help lay a good foundation for the transition that you must now lead," he wrote.

The Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons require that a majority of the House of Bishops consent to the resignation of any diocesan bishop was has not reached the mandatory retirement age of 72 years of been declared incapacitated (Title III, Canon 22.1-3).

Steenson wrote that he was grateful for "pastoral support I have received from the Presiding Bishop and her office during this time."

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is due to travel from New Orleans at the close of the House of Bishops meeting to attend Rio Grande's annual clergy conference on the afternoon of September 25.

"This has been an extraordinarily difficult decision to make because of the bonds I share with you and the people of this diocese." Steenson concluded. "It has indeed been a privilege to serve alongside you these past seven years. With deep feelings I write, with regret for how this may complicate your own ministry, with profound gratitude for your prayers and support, and with much love for you. I pledge to you my prayers and friendship in these days to come."

-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.


Other news:

Video interview with Bishop Steenson

Kendall Harmon - TitusOneNine

The Living Church Foundation

Monday, September 24, 2007

What have Oi been up to?

Hmmm... I received several emails inquiring about my status, whether I'm still alive or have returned. Well, rest assured that I'm still kicking, but just very busy. Here are some updates as to what transpired in the pass few days.

First off, our garage schola (currently consisting of 8 voices) has been outed. We sang for the Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help and was spotted by one of the organists who asked us to fill in at a Sunday Mass because he could not make it. After trying many if not all of the tricks in the book, and failing to get out of it, I, against my better judgement and taking into account the alternative of a Mass without music, agreed.

Sometimes, you can shout 'My hour has not yet come' till the cows come home, but when the hour has come, it has come, regardless of whether you approve or not. Of course, I would have loved more time to prepare but hey, we make do with what we have.

How did it go? Well, I think sang the ordinaries (the de Angelis, because that's what the people are most familiar with) well enough. There was a major screw up in the slides though and they were not put up so the people could not join in for the longer pieces such as the Gloria.

The other songs were a different story. Some were rather successful, others not so. The Panis Angelicus went rather well, except for the lack of an accompaniment. Oh yes, I need to mention that everything was a capella as our organist can't play any of the pieces we wanted sing yet. To compensate, we tried some 4 part SATB pieces and others with a simple descant. The responsorial psalm went ok too. We used of of the Psalm tones that we normally use in singing Hours. Perhaps some faux bourdons can be added to spice things up a little in the future.

But the ad hoc un-practiced pieces did not go so well. This is rather bad. And it seems there was a problem with the sound system as well as there were several remarks that some parts were inaudible.

Anyway, we're practicing on Wednesdays so wish us luck. And we're on for the Novena on Saturday as well.

It is no our intention to limit the people's participation, nor their understanding of the Mass whenever we sing. So, to facilitate this, it's my plan to have 3 sessions (cum workshops), open sessions, with the people, to teach them the ordinaries. I also plan to have the sheet music, in modern notation and the chant CD's available at the parish office and the Church entrance. This should help those who really want to learn and participate in the singing. After all this, if there are still complaints about not being able to participate for whatever reason, then it's through no fault of ours as we have done all we could. In all our Masses, whenever we sing a Latin hymn or motet, I always try to put op the English translation under the Latin texts so that the people can understand the reflect of the beautiful and deeply meaningful words being sung.

When we introduce another ordinary, the same process would be repeated.

What do you think? More on the activities during my hiatus later.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's that up in the sky?

Able to give the Good News to the poor faster than a speeding bullet.

He doffs his zuchetto

Releasing captives more powerfully than a locomotive.

Set's the hair to flight mode

Giving new sight to the blind and setting the oppressed free in a single bound.

Furls up his cape
Look, up in the sky!

And takes off
It's a bird! No, it's a plane.

Super-Pope captured in mid flight. They had to rope in a National Geographic photographer for this shot.
It's Super-Pope!

And sidekicks, Wonder-Bishop and Robbi? =)
No offense intended. Apologies in advance to B'nai B'rith, Abe Foxman, the ADL and the Jewish people.

He's so hot, he sometimes levitates while seated needing the help of sidekick Wonder-Bishop to stay grounded.
Formerly the mild mannered Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and sidekick to the previous Super-Pope, he got his super powers when the Conclave of Cardinals elected him Pope.

The mild mannered Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

The Conclave of Cardinals which bit... err... elected him. There was much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth by villains and baddies such as Modernist Goblin Hans Kung, the evil Stepmother Frances Kissling and Rat Woman Joan Chittister and the archbrother and sisterhood of evil such as VOF, Call to Action, the NCR.

His expression after being elected

As Sidekick to Super-Pope John Paul II

Included among his many powers are infallibility while speaking ex cathedra, supreme, full ordinary and immediate jurisdiction over the whole Church, appointments and deposition of bishops, excommunication and much more.

Unlike its more famous confrère, the Bat Mobile, the Pope Mobile is His Holiness' vehicle of choice.

Comes in both the convertible (above) and bulletproof (below) models.

It's great for making your way through large crowds.

When he's not zipping around in his sedia gestatoria of course. But sedia sightings have become somewhat of a rarity of late after the infamous VII incident chronicled as The Pope and the Council: The Infiltration of Modernism (Pls refer to the Super Pope comics #1965 - #1978 for more info).

Past title holder Pius XII in a sedia gestatoria. Archival footage. The Daily Planet has a USD50,000 standing offer for sightings of current holder in sedia.

As a chic modern day superhero, Super Pope has various costumes for different occasions, be it blessing crowds on a cold day, transubstantiating the Body of Christ or excommunicating heretics.

As mentioned earlier, some pieces such as the fiddleback chasuble and papal fanon became extremely rare after the VII incident. Refer to sedia gestatoria above. The Daily Planet has a USD30,000 standing offer for sightings of current holder in fiddleback and fanon. Previous holder JPIIweloveu in archival images in fanon and fiddleback.

Camauro, for keeping the ears warm in cold weather and red cappa, for long distance and trans-continental flights.

Papal pallium, for lasso-ing heretics

Of course, like any self respecting super hero, Super Pope has a tonne of great gadgets and gizmos to make his task easier (and to make him look good).

Mitre, to gore heretics to death and crozier, to bop them on the head. Usage reserved for super-villains and arch-heretics, category II(the excommunicated, those who had books and writings banned by the CDF, etc) and above (liturgical dancers, inventors of Communion in the Hand, the composer of Kumbaya, etc).

Papal Tiara, a torture device which projects the entire Summa, the Prayer to St. Michael, the Tridentine Mass (with the Missa Papae Marcelli) into an enemy's head and replays it over and over. Voice of Cardinal Ottaviani heard every 5 minutes asking "Do you recant?"

Red Papal shoes. Kicks butt.

Ring of the Fisherman, the topping on the knuckle sandwich. Demonstration of application below:

The final weapon in the arsenal is the Papal Hand Wave. Can be used to impart benedictions such as the Urbi et Orbi or excommunications. No range limits. Works through TV as well (Click the link, scroll down and check under Works Indulgenced with a Plenary Indulgence, #10).

Unlike the Bat-light, which only works at night, used to summon Batman, our hero can be summoned by a puff of white smoke.

The white smoke used to summon Super-Pope. Be extra careful to ensure that the smoke is white. Grey and indeterminate colour smoke have been known to spark false alarms. Shine a bright light on it for night time use.
No offence intended.

Friday, September 07, 2007


The contents have been removed. The comments remain.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A mighty voice has been silenced

Requiescat in pace

Luciano Pavarotti, the great tenor, has passed away. I've always been rather fond of old Pavarotti and his black mane. In fact, the 3 Tenors concert at the 1990 World Cup finals casette was one of my first musical purchases ever and I listened to it over and over again (and not only because that was one of only 5 casettes I had, 3 of which were Christmas albums). I found his Nessun Dorma majestic, the easy way he reached those high notes, Wow! I though he must have been wearing some really tight pants. But then, knowing his ample girth, probably all his pants were tight =)

From that moment on, he was one of my favourite singers and I've always enjoyed listening to his works. But he has now passed and his mighty voice has been silenced. Perhaps that glorious voice which rose to such wondrous heights might now be vying with the voices of the angels before God's throne. Wouldn't it be wonderful to sing the Ave Maria before the Lady herself? =)

Let us pray for old Luciano, that the Lord will have mercy on his soul.

From AP

ROME - Luciano Pavarotti, whose vibrant high C's and ebullient showmanship made him the most beloved and celebrated tenor since Caruso and one of the few opera singers to win crossover fame as a popular superstar, died Thursday. He was 71.

His manager, Terri Robson, told the AP in an e-mailed statement that Pavarotti died at his home in Modena, Italy, at 5 a.m. local time. Pavarotti had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and underwent further treatment in August.

"The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness," the statement said.

For serious fans, the unforced beauty and thrilling urgency of Pavarotti's voice made him the ideal interpreter of the Italian lyric repertory, especially in the 1960s and '70s when he first achieved stardom. For millions more, his charismatic performances of standards like "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" came to represent what opera is all about.

In fact, "Nessun Dorma" was Pavarotti's last performance, sung at at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in February 2006. His last full-scale concert was in Taipei in, December 2005.

It was the second monumental loss in the opera world in recent months. American soprano Beverly Sills, whose widespread popularity mirrored Pavarotti's, died July 2 at her home in New York. She was 78 and suffered from cancer.

Instantly recognizable from his charcoal black beard and tuxedo-busting girth, Pavarotti radiated an intangible magic that helped him win hearts in a way Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras — his partners in the "Three Tenors" concerts — never quite could.

"I always admired the God-given glory of his voice — that unmistakable special timbre from the bottom up to the very top of the tenor range," Domingo said in a statement from Los Angeles.

"I also loved his wonderful sense of humor and on several occasions 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," he said.

Pavarotti, who seemed equally at ease singing with soprano Joan Sutherland as with the Spice Girls, scoffed at accusations that he was sacrificing his art in favor of commercialism.

"The word commercial is exactly what we want," he said, after appearing in the widely publicized "Three Tenors" concerts. "We've reached 1.5 billion people with opera. If you want to use the word commercial, or something more derogatory, we don't care. Use whatever you want."

In the annals of that rare and coddled breed, the operatic tenor, it may well be said the 20th century began with Enrico Caruso and ended with Pavarotti. Other tenors — Domingo included — may have drawn more praise from critics for their artistic range and insights, but none could equal the combination of natural talent and personal charm that so endeared Pavarotti to audiences.

"Pavarotti is the biggest superstar of all," the late New York Times music critic Harold Schonberg once said. "He's correspondingly more spoiled than anybody else. They think they can get away with anything. Thanks to the glory of his voice, he probably can."

In his heyday, he was known as the "King of the High C's" for the ease with which he tossed off difficult top notes. In fact it was his ability to hit nine glorious high C's in quick succession that first turned him into an international superstar singing Tonio's aria "Ah! Mes amis," in Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment" at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1972.

In the 1990s, Pavarotti's teaming with Domingo and Carreras became a music business phenomenon and spawned copycats such as the Three Irish Tenors.

Pavarotti starred in a film called "Yes, Giorgio" (though its failure scuttled his hopes for a Hollywood career) and appeared in a filmed version of "Rigoletto." He wrote an autobiography, "I, Luciano Pavarotti," and made more than 90 recordings.

From Beijing to Buenos Aires, people immediately recognized his incandescent smile and lumbering bulk, clutching a white handkerchief as he sang arias and Neapolitan folk songs, pop numbers and Christmas carols for hundreds of thousands in outdoor concerts.

His name seemed to show up as much in gossip columns as serious music reviews, particularly after he split with Adua Veroni, his wife of 35 years and mother of their three daughters, and then took up with his 26-year-old secretary in 1996.

In late 2003, he married Nicoletta Mantovani in a lavish, star-studded ceremony. Pavarotti said their daughter Alice, nearly a year old at the time of the wedding, was the main reason he and Mantovani finally wed after years together.

In the latter part of his career, some music critics cited what they saw as an increasing tendency toward the vulgar and the commercial.

He came under fire for canceling performances or pandering to the lowest common denominator in his choice of programs, or for the Three Tenors tours and their millions of dollars in fees.

He was criticized for lip-synching at a concert in Modena, Italy, his hometown. An artist accused him of copying her works from a how-to-draw book and selling the paintings.

The son of a baker who was an amateur singer, Pavarotti was born Oct. 12, 1935, in Modena. He had a meager upbringing, though he said it was rich with happiness.

"Our family had very little, but I couldn't imagine one could have any more," Pavarotti said.

As a boy, Pavarotti showed more interest in soccer than his studies, but he also was fond of listening to his father's recordings of tenor greats like Beniamino Gigli, Tito Schipa, Jussi Bjoerling and Giuseppe Di Stefano, his favorite.

Among his close childhood friends was Mirella Freni, who would eventually become a soprano and an opera great herself. The two studied singing together and years later ended up making records and concerts together, according to Elvio Giudici, an Italian opera critic.

In his teens, Pavarotti joined his father, also a tenor, in the church choir and local opera chorus. He was influenced by the American movie actor-singer Mario Lanza.

"In my teens I used to go to Mario Lanza movies and then come home and imitate him in the mirror," Pavarotti said.

Singing was still nothing more than a passion while Pavarotti trained to become a teacher and began working in a school.

But at 20, he traveled with his chorus to an international music competition in Wales. The Modena group won first place, and Pavarotti began to dedicate himself to singing.

With the encouragement of his then fiancee, Adua Veroni, he started lessons, selling insurance to pay for them. He studied with Arrigo Pola and later Ettore Campogalliani.

In 1961, Pavarotti won a local voice competition and with it a debut as Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme."

He followed with a series of successes in small opera houses throughout Europe before his 1963 debut at Covent Garden in London, where he stood in for Di Stefano as Rodolfo.

Having impressed conductor Richard Bonynge, Pavarotti was given a role opposite Bonynge's wife, soprano Joan Sutherland, in a Miami production of "Lucia di Lamermoor." They subsequently signed him for a 14-week tour of Australia.

It was the recognition Pavarotti needed to launch his career. He also credited Sutherland with teaching him how to breathe correctly.

In the following years, Pavarotti made a series of major debuts, appearing at La Scala in Milan in 1965, San Francisco in 1967 and New York's Metropolitan Opera House in 1968. Other early venues included Vienna, Paris and Chicago.

Throughout his career, Pavarotti struggled with a much-publicized weight problem. His love of food caused him to balloon to a reported high of 396 pounds in 1978.

"Maybe this time I'll really do it and keep it up," he said during one of his constant attempts at dieting.

Pavarotti, who had been trained as a lyric tenor, began taking on heavier dramatic tenor roles, such as Manrico in Verdi's "Trovatore" and the title role in "Otello."

Pavarotti often drew comparisons with Domingo, his most notable contemporary. Aficionados judged Domingo the more complete and consistent musician, but he never captured the public imagination like Pavarotti.

Though there appeared to be professional jealousy between the great singers, Pavarotti claimed he preferred to judge himself only against his earlier performances.

In the mid-1970s, Pavarotti became a true media star. He appeared in television commercials and began appearing in hugely lucrative mega-concerts outdoors and in stadiums around the world. Soon came joint concerts with pop stars. A concert in New York's Central Park in 1993 drew 500,000 fans.

Pavarotti's recording of "Volare" went platinum in 1988.

In 1990, he appeared with Domingo and Carreras in a concert at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome for the end of soccer's World Cup. The concert was a huge success, and the record known as "The Three Tenors" was a best-seller and was nominated for two Grammy awards. The video sold over 750,000 copies.

The three-tenor extravaganza became a mini-industry. With a follow-up album recorded at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 1994, the three have outsold every other performer of classical music. A 1996 tour earned each tenor an estimated $10 million.

Pavarotti liked to mingle with pop stars in his series of charity concerts, "Pavarotti & Friends," held annually in Modena. He performed with artists as varied as Ricky Martin, James Brown and the Spice Girls.

The performances raised some eyebrows but he always shrugged off the criticism.

Some say the "word pop is a derogatory word to say 'not important' — I do not accept that," Pavarotti said in a 2004 interview with the AP. "If the word classic is the word to say 'boring,' I do not accept. There is good and bad music."

It was not just his annual extravaganza that saw Pavarotti involved in humanitarian work.

During the 1992-95 Bosnia war, he collected humanitarian aid along with U2 lead singer Bono, and after the war he financed and established the Pavarotti Music Center in the southern city of Mostar to offer Bosnia's artists the opportunity to develop their skills.

He performed at benefit concerts to raise money for victims of tragedies such as an earthquake in December 1988 that killed 25,000 people in northern Armenia.

Pavarotti was also dogged by accusations of tax evasion, and in 2000 he agreed to pay nearly roughly $12 million to the Italian state after he had unsuccessfully claimed that the tax haven of Monte Carlo rather than Italy was his official residence.

He had been accused in 1996 of filing false tax returns for 1989-91.

Pavarotti always denied wrongdoing, saying he paid taxes wherever he performed. But, upon agreeing to the settlement, he said: "I cannot live being thought not a good person."

Pavarotti was preparing to leave New York in July 2006 to resume a farewell tour when doctors discovered a malignant pancreatic mass, his manager Robson said at the time. He underwent surgery in a New York hospital, and all his remaining 2006 concerts were canceled.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of the disease, though doctors said the surgery offered improved hopes for survival.

"I was a fortunate and happy man," Pavarotti told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview published about a month after the surgery. "After that, this blow arrived."

"And now I am paying the penalty for this fortune and happiness," he told the newspaper.

Fans were still waiting for a public appearance a year after his surgery. In the summer, Pavarotti taught a group of selected students and worked on a recording of sacred songs, a work expected to be released in early 2008, according to his manager. He mostly divided his time between his home town, Modena, and his villa in the Adriatic seaside resort of Pesaro.

Faced with speculation that the tenor was near death, Mantovani, his second wife, told Italian newspaper La Stampa in July 2007: "He's fighting like a lion and he has never lost his heart."

Pavarotti had three daughters with his first wife, Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana; and one, Alice, with his second wife.

At his side when he died were his wife, Nicoletta; his four daughters; his sister, Gabriela; his nephews and close relatives and friends, Robson said.

Goodbye, Luciano and God keep you.