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Thursday, September 6, 2007
Luciano Pavarotti (Oct 12, 1935-Sept. 6, 2007)
The great Luciano Pavarotti is dead. He was 71.
The Italian tenor has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. He died at his home in Modena, Italy.
Pavarotti's round, gorgeous tone and command of the Italian bel canto repertory made him one of the most beloved tenors in the world. His arrival on the operatic scene (in 1963, when he stepped in for Giuseppe di Stefano at Covent Garden) coincided with the birth of the recording industry, and he left a substantial legacy of complete operas. His catalogue includes the major works of Donizetti, Puccini and Verdi, and various operas by Bellini and Mascagni. (My personal favorite is one of his few German-language recordings, as (what else?) the Italian Tenor in Georg Solti's recording of Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. Of course, the great tenor sings a part written in Italian.)
Onstage, his forty-year career featured performances in works like L'Elisir D'Amore, Rigoletto, and Aida. These appearances, in venues all over the world, helped bring those operas into the consciousness of the world. In the last 20 years, he developed problems with his upper range and a disinclination to learn new operatic roles.
Undaunted, the tenor turned to the more lucrative venues of the stadium circuit, appearing in concerts around the world and helping to further popularize opera. His performance of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" became something of a signature tune for him at the 1990 World Cup and the 2006 Winter Olympics. He also formed the Three Tenors with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, further elevating the operatic standard to a world audience.
His later career was rocked by scandal--his second marriage to his secretary and open speculation about his weight. A Pavarotti feeding frenzy would often start in the press if the great man appeared at a restaurant. However, his charity work, including the opening of a Pavarotti Music Center in Bosnia and his fund-raising for the Red Cross did much to balance out his image.
Pavarotti was one of the great figures of opera, the most beloved Italian tenor since the days of Enrico Caruso. This unique voice, this generous man, this good-hearted ambassador of the opera is at last, silent.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats
- Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.