Legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti will be laid to rest in his hometown of Modena, northern Italy, today.

The opera singer's family had asked for his funeral to be a private affair, but thousands of people are expected outside the invitation-only ceremony at Modena cathedral.

Pavarotti died on Thursday morning at the age of 71 after losing a battle with pancreatic cancer.

His body, dressed in a black tuxedo and clutching a white handkerchief and rosary beads, has been on public view since dawn today ahead of it being taken to the cathedral.

Tens of thousands of Italians are thought to have filed past his coffin over the last three days.

The tenor's funeral, which will be broadcast live on Italian television, will be attended by a range of musical figures reflecting his universal appeal.

U2 singer Bono, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras – with whom Pavarotti formed the Three Tenors – and Milan's La Scala opera house general manager Stephane Lissner are all expected to attend.

Pavarotti's second wife Nicoletta Mantovani, their four-year-old daughter Alice, his three daughters from his first marriage to Adua Veroni will be present as well.

Vatican cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will conduct the ceremony itself, while tenor Andrea Bocelli will sing Panis Angelicus.

Italian prime minister Romano Prodi and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan will also be in attendance at Modena cathedral and the Italian air force will conduct a flyby as a mark of respect.

Pavarotti will then be buried at the Montale Rangone cemetery where members of his family, including his stillborn son Riccardo, are buried.

In further tribute to the tenor's memory, the Italian and English football teams will play Nessun Dorma before their respective Euro 2008 qualifying matches later today.

Pavarotti – a passionate football fan – gave one of his most memorable performances alongside Domingo and Carreras at the 1990 World Cup in Italy singing Puccini's Nessun Dorma.

08/09/2007 08:52:30