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Arrivederci Luciano! For your music and magic nessun dorma
He died yesterday aged 71 at his home in Modena, Italy. Pavarotti had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and underwent further treatment in August.
His manager Terri Robson said: “The maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness.”
Speaking from inside Pavarotti’s home, which was guarded by police, Pavarotti’s assistant Edwin Tinoco said his final days had been peaceful and spent at home.
For serious fans, the unforced beauty and thrilling urgency of Pavarotti’s voice made him the ideal interpreter of the Italian lyric repertory, especially in the s and ’70s when he achieved stardom. For millions more, his charismatic performances of standards like Nessun Dorma (Let Nobody Sleep) from Puccini’s Turandot came to represent what opera is all about.
In fact, Nessun Dorma was Pavarotti’s last performance, sung at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in February His last full-scale concert was at Taipei in December , and his farewell to opera was in Puccini’s Tosca at New York’s Metropolitan in March
Instantly recognisable from his charcoal black beard and tuxedo-busting girth, Pavarotti radiated an intangible magic that helped him win hearts in a way Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras — his partners in the Three Tenors concerts — never quite could.
“I always admired the God-given glory of his voice — that unmistakable special timbre from the bottom up to the very top of the tenor range,” Domingo said.
“I also loved his wonderful sense of humour and on several occasions of our concerts with Jose Carreras — the so-called Three Tenors concerts — we had trouble remembering that we were giving a concert before a paying audience, because we had so much fun between ourselves,” he said.
Pavarotti, who seemed equally at ease singing with soprano Joan Sutherland as with the Spice Girls, scoffed at accusations that he was sacrificing his art in favour of commercialism.
“The word commercial is exactly what we want,” he said, after appearing in the widely publicised Three Tenors concerts. “We’ve reached billion people with opera. If you want to use the word commercial, or something more derogatory, we don’t care. Use whatever you want.”
In the annals of that rare and coddled breed, the operatic tenor, it may well be said the 20th century began with Enrico Caruso and ended with Pavarotti. Other tenors — Domingo included — may have drawn more praise from critics for their artistic range and insights, but none could equal the combination of natural talent and personal charm that so endeared Pavarotti to audiences.
In his heyday, he was known as the “King of the High Cs” for the ease with which he tossed off difficult top notes. In fact it was his ability to hit nine glorious high Cs in quick succession that first turned him into an international superstar singing Tonio’s aria Ah! Mes Amis in Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in
In the s, Pavarotti’s teaming with Domingo and Carreras became a music business phenomenon and spawned copycats such as the Three Irish Tenors.
Pavarotti starred in a romantic comedy called Yes, Giorgio in (though its failure scuttled his hopes for a Hollywood career). He appeared to better acclaim in a television adaptation of Rigoletto also released in He wrote an autobiography, I, Luciano Pavarotti, and made more than 90 recordings.
From Beijing to Buenos Aires, people immediately recognised his incandescent smile and lumbering bulk, clutching a white handkerchief as he sang arias and Neapolitan folk songs, pop numbers and Christmas carols for hundreds of thousands in outdoor concerts.
His name seemed to show up as much in gossip columns as serious music reviews, particularly after he split with Adua Veroni, his wife of 35 years and mother of their three daughters, and then took up with his year-old former secretary Nicoletta Mantovani in He married her in December in a lavish, star-studded ceremony. Pavarotti said their daughter Alice, nearly a year old at the time, was the main reason he and Mantovani finally wed after years together.
In the latter part of his career, some music critics cited what they saw as an increasing tendency toward the vulgar and the commercial.
He was criticised for lip-synching at a concert in Modena, Italy, his hometown. He came under fire for canceling performances or pandering to the lowest common denominator in his choice of programs, or for the Three Tenors tours and their millions of dollars in fees.
In contrast, Pavarotti had a meager upbringing, though he said it was rich with happiness. The son of a baker who was an amateur singer, he was born October 12, , in Modena. “Our family had very little, but I couldn’t imagine one could have any more,” Pavarotti said.
As a boy, Pavarotti showed more interest in soccer than his studies, but he also was fond of listening to his father’s recordings of tenor greats like Beniamino Gigli, Tito Schipa, Jussi Bjoerling and Giuseppe Di Stefano, his favourite.
Among his close childhood friends was Mirella Freni, who would eventually become a soprano and an opera great herself. The two studied singing together and years later ended up making records and concerts together, according to Elvio Giudici, an Italian opera critic.
In his teens, Pavarotti joined his father, also a tenor, in the church choir and local opera chorus. He was influenced by the American movie actor- singer Mario Lanza.
“In my teens I used to go to Mario Lanza movies and then come home and imitate him in the mirror,” Pavarotti said.
Singing was still nothing more than a passion while Pavarotti trained to become a teacher and began working in a school.
But at 20, he travelled with his choir to an international music competition in Wales. The Modena group won first place, and Pavarotti began to dedicate himself to singing.
With the encouragement of his then fiancée, Adua Veroni, he started lessons, selling insurance to pay for them. He studied with Arrigo Pola and later Ettore Campogalliani.
In , Pavarotti won a local voice competition and with it a debut as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème.
He followed with a series of successes in small opera houses throughout Europe, including a performance at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin in , before his subsequent debut at Covent Garden in London that year, where he stood in for Di Stefano as Rodolfo.
Having impressed conductor Richard Bonynge, Pavarotti was given a role opposite Bonynge’s wife, soprano Joan Sutherland, in a Miami production of Lucia di Lamermoor. They subsequently signed him for a week tour of Australia.
It was the recognition Pavarotti needed to launch his career. He also credited Sutherland with teaching him how to breathe correctly.
In the following years, Pavarotti made a series of major debuts, appearing at La Scala in Milan in , San Francisco in and New York’s Metropolitan Opera House in Other early venues included Vienna, Paris and Chicago.
Pavarotti began taking on heavier dramatic tenor roles, such as Manrico in Verdi’s Trovatore and the title role in Otello.
In the mids, Pavarotti became a true media star. He appeared in television commercials and began appearing in hugely lucrative mega-concerts outdoors and in stadiums around the world. A concert in New York’s Central Park in drew , fans.
The three-tenor extravaganza became a mini-industry. With a follow- up album recorded at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in , the three have outsold every other performer of classical music. A tour earned each tenor an estimated $10 million (€m).
Pavarotti liked to mingle with pop stars in his series of charity concerts, Pavarotti & Friends, held annually in Modena. He performed with artists as varied as Ricky Martin, James Brown, the Spice Girls and Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries.
It was not just his annual extravaganza that saw Pavarotti involved in humanitarian work. During the Bosnia war, he collected humanitarian aid along with U2 lead singer Bono, and after the war he financed and established the Pavarotti Music Centre in the southern city of Mostar to offer Bosnia’s artists the opportunity to develop their skills.
This week, the Italian government honoured him with an award for “excellence in Italian culture,” and La Scala and Modena’s theatre announced a joint Luciano Pavarotti award.
In July , Pavarotti was preparing to leave New York to resume a fare- well tour when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He underwent surgery in New York, and his remaining concerts were cancelled.
“I was a fortunate and happy man,” Pavarotti told Italian daily Corriere della Sera a month after the surgery. “And now I am paying the penalty for this fortune and happiness,” he said.
It was announced on August 21 last that he was being treated for pancreatic cancer at a hospital in Modena.
At his side when he died were his wife, Nicoletta; his four daughters; his sister, Gabriela; his nephews and close relatives and friends, Robson said.
The funeral will be held tomorrow inside Modena’s cathedral, Mayor Giorgio Pighi said.
Luciano Pavarotti: Death leaves huge void in world of classical music
Luciano Pavarotti’s death leaves a massive void in the world of classical music.
He was critical in bringing opera into the mainstream. During a year career he progressed from small, unpaid recitals to the biggest televised concert in the world, topping the charts along the way.
Here are just some of his accomplishments:
* After achieving breakthrough success in the United States in , Pavarotti began to make frequent television appearances and performed as Rodolfo in La Bohème as part of the first Live From The Met broadcast in
* Although already a megastar in the opera world, Pavarotti’s transition to international celebrity began when his recording of Nessun Dorma became the theme song of the World Cup in Italy achieving massive popularity.
* Nessun Dorma’s chart success was followed by the first Three Tenors concert, when Pavarotti teamed up with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras on the eve of the World Cup final. The recording of the concert became the biggest-selling classical music record.
* In The Essential Pavarotti became the first classical album to top the British pop charts.
* A Three Tenors concert in France attracted a TV audience of two billion, making it the biggest TV concert in history.
* He persuaded a host of mainstream pop artists to help with his charity work, performing alongside the likes of U2, Eric Clapton and Elton John.
* Over a year career he released more than records, selling more than million albums worldwide.