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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, is gravely ill. According to the Italian news agency AGI, he is in very serious condition. The singer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. He had surgery in New York last summer. He was in an Italian hospital several weeks ago with a high fever. Pavarotti's health is deteriorating even as he wins new honors for his country and his peers.

NPR's Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr reports.

JEFFREY FREYMANN-WEYR: This week, the Italian government announced that Luciano Pavarotti would be the first recipient of the prize for promoting Italy's culture at home and abroad. Meanwhile, a theater from his hometown of Modena, Italy, together with the famed opera house La Scala in Milan, are also planning the creation of a competition in his honor for young opera singers.

While Pavarotti has made no public appearances since last year, the tenor was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA, as saying, I've always thought that our real value, our real strength lies in the enthusiasm, the devotion, and the encouragement we can transmit to the young. Pavarotti has always championed younger singers, even while pursuing a busy career that helped revive the popularity of operatic tenor arias.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LUCIANO PAVAROTTI (Tenor Singer): (Singing in foreign language)

FREYMANN-WEYR: Luciano Pavarotti is now said to be at his home in Modena, Italy, with doctors from the local hospital attending to him.

Last year, surgeons removed the pancreatic tumor as he was in the midst of a farewell tour. An Italian television station is reporting that the 71-year-old tenor is drifting in and out of consciousness and that his family and close friends are with him.

Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr, NPR News.

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