Luciano Pavarotti, the greatest tenor in the history of opera, died today of pancreatic cancer. He was 71.

He had undergone surgery last year to fight the disease, but pancreatic is one of the most severe forms of the disease.

Pavarotti was one of those artists whose recognition crossed the boundaries of his genre. Even people who had never heard a note of opera knew his name. Musicians from the world of pop, R&B, country, even rap had worked and performed with the superstar.

Along with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, he revitalized opera in the 1990s with his famous 3 Tenors concerts. Opera became appreciated more by the mainstream as a result.

Stylistically, there was no one smoother than Pavarotti. His voice floated on each and every note he sang. High notes seemed effortless. He was a superstar in every sense of the word.

When I first started thinking of getting into the opera “business”, his was the voice I attempted to emulate. In college, I’d listen to his recordings incessantly, trying to catch each subtle nuance, each magnificent timbre.

I don’t know why, but Pavarotti’s death brings the recent passing of my father back to my mind. Maybe it’s because they both died of cancer. Perhaps it’s because I looked up to Pavarotti as a singer, as I so often looked up to my dad. For whatever reason, the passing of this legend of classical theatre reminds me once again of the preciously finite time we are granted here. Truly, Luciano Pavarotti made the most of his.

Nessun dorma, Luciano.