De mortuis nihil nisi bonum , and all that, but I doubt if Pavarotti will be remembered a century from now, and he certainly won't be regarded as one of the all-time great opera singers.
Why? The New York Times obituary said it all: It is surprising how often even opera experts confuse one great artist with another, but no one ever mistook the voice of Luciano Pavarotti . And that was his great flaw. No matter what role he sang on stage, he always played the same character - Luciano Pavarotti. When Nicolai Gedda sang the part of Lt. Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, the audience heard the heedless, naive voice of a young American officer. When Pavarotti sang it, they heard, well, just Pavarotti, BELTING it out like a fat Italian tenor. No attempt to sing in character, and every recording I've heard of him is the same. It's never Lt. Pinkerton, or the Unknown Prince, or King Riccardo singing. It's always just Pavarotti. He was the Roger Moore of the opera world. Moreover, his range was astonishingly limited. He only ever played 25 roles on stage, which for an established opera singer is very poor.
I was amused by an interview with an "opera expert" on Morning Ireland, who said he was the greatest tenor of his generation, and as proof she said that he could hold a note for longer than anyone else. Apparently that's the standard that now qualifies singers for immortality.
The people who believe he was the greatest tenor of his generation are in general the ones who don't actually go to the opera, or listen to classical music. Anyone with ears knew that Pavarotti with all his immense talent would rank fairly low compared with the great singers of the past and present.
By the time 2107 swings around he'll be classed with Richard Tauber and Mario Lanza as belonging to the class of opera singers who weren't really all that good, but they were popular.