Donald Trump calls Pavarotti 'good friend' despite singer's widow demanding he stopped using his music for campaign

Emily Shugerman
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Donald Trump has claimed to have been “great friends” with legendary opera singer Luciano Pavarotti – a claim the late tenor’s family would likely dispute.

Mr Trump made his claim at a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. In his opening remarks, Mr Trump called Italy a “beacon of artistic and scientific achievement,” and lauded Italian artists like composer Giuseppe Verdi and Mr Pavarotti.

Upon mentioning Mr Pavarotti's name, Mr Trump added, “friend of mine, great friend of mine.”

Trump gives a shout out to Pavarotti, calls him "a good friend of mine".

Pavarotti died 10 years ago in 2007. —via @MSNBC pic.twitter.com/MHMT065mh3

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 20, 2017

However, Mr Pavarotti's family have previously asked Mr Trump to stop using the singer’s most famous aria - Nessun Dorma - at his campaign rallies.

"As members of his immediate family, we would like to recall that the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the world view offered by the candidate Donald Trump," the family said in a statement to the press.

Mr Pavarotti last sang the popular aria at the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Turin, Italy – the final performance of his career. The singer died of pancreatic cancer in 2007 at the age of 71.

The apparent tensions between Mr Trump and Mr Pavarotti reportedly started before his death, in 2002, when the New York billionaire hired the opera legend for a concert at one of his Atlantic City casinos. After a lackluster performance from the ageing singer, Mr Trump demanded a refund.

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