MILAN, ITALY - Opera-goers were in tears last night after local hero Luciano Pavarotti angrily abused them in a four-letter word outburst -and then stormed offstage swearing never to sing in public again.
Pavarotti, who appeared to be swaying unsteadily throughout his performance, appeared to snap when some members of the audience at the prestigious Scala Theatre called out for him to sing the piece he is perhaps most famous for: 'Nessun Dorma'.
"For f**k's-a sake-a! That is it-a - I am never-a singing for-a you again. F**king-a muppets," he shouted in front of the astonished crowd, before exiting the stage.
Pavarotti refused to comment as he was rushed out of the back entrance of the opera house immediately after his walk-out. However, his agent Armando Trulli admitted that the outburst had been partly fuelled by nervous exhaustion and "too much eating".
"Luciano sometimes gets annoyed that nine out of ten people don't know any of his songs except for 'Nessun Dorma'," he explained. "He often says to me that if it wasn't for the 1990 World Cup, no one would really give a toss about him."
Trulli said that he was currently in discussions with Pavarotti about a possible change of direction for the Italian housewife's pin-up favourite.
"Luciano is a bit tired of the opera scene and having to remain overweight to maintain his reputation," he added.
Music industry executives rushed to Pavarotti's defence, insisting that his career was far from over.
"I think there could be a place for Luciano in the UK progressive breakbeat scene," said independent A&R man Walter Spinner. "We could lay down a few of his vocal samples over some Old School or slowed-down drum'n'bass loops and take it from there."