US President Donald Trump has dropped another clanger, claiming to be “great friends” with Luciano Pavarotti – without seeming to realise that the legendary Italian tenor died 10 years ago.

Donald Trump strikes a bum note in singing Luciano Pavarotti’s praises

The blunder occurred last week when Trump met with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Fentiloni at the White House. During a joint press conference, Trump delivered a speech praising Italy’s scientific and artistic achievement, in which he appeared to go off script, adding an aside about his friendship with Pavarotti.

Reading from notes, Trump said: “Through the ages your country has been a beacon of artistic and scientific achievement that continues today, from Venice to Florence, from Verdi to Pavarotti – friend of mine, great friend of mine.”

Aside from the fact that Pavarotti passed away in 2007, the tenor’s family may well be surprised to hear the US President’s comment. Last year, they asked Trump to stop using Pavarotti’s recording of Puccini’s famous aria Nessun Dorma at his election rallies, saying the singer would not have endorsed his campaign. In a statement, Pavarotti’s widow and daughters said: “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.”

Twitter had a field day, of course, regarding Trump’s recent comment, with Greg @mhs58 tweeting: “Pavarotti Tweeted that he would like Trump to join him as soon as possible.”

Jimmy Kimmel also made merry with the claim on his television show, asking Pavarotti’s “ghost” if he and Trump really were good friends.

According to The Independent, tensions between Trump and Pavarotti first flared in 2002 when the billionaire hired the legendary but aging opera star to perform at one of his Atlantic City casinos, and then demanded a refund after an apparently lacklustre performance.