Italian tenor GIANNI RAIMONDI has died at the age of 85.
The singer passed away on Sunday (19Oct08) at his home in Pianoro near Bologna in central Italy.
Raimondi began his career studying at the Music Conservatory near his native city, where he made his debut in 1948 as Ernesto in Don Pasquale.
He gave 270 performances throughout his career, making his debut at Milan's La Scala opera house in 1955 as Alfredo in La Traviata, opposite opera legend Maria Callas.
He went on to make a name for himself in the U.S., with his first performance at the San Francisco Opera in 1957.
He also appeared at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires in 1959, and graced international stages in Paris, Berlin, London, Nice, Marseille and Monte-Carlo.
Raimondi then graced the stage at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1965 as Rodolfo in La Boheme, opposite opera great Mirella Freni - a role he later reprised on film.
That same year, Raimondi made his debut at the Vienna State Opera in Austria, where he continued to perform until 1977, working with legendary conductor Herbert von Karajan.
La Scala described Raimondi as having "one of the biggest voices of his time".