On September 6, 2007, the classical music and opera world lost a man who may go down in history as the greatest opera singing star of modern times â€“ if not for all time.
Luciano Pavarotti, who was known mainly by his last name, Pavarotti, has often been acclaimed as having the most fantastic tenor voice in the modern history of opera. His death from pancreatic cancer at age 71 brings to a close the life of a man whose singing career spanned more than 40 years and included performances in the greatest opera houses in the world, including the Metropolitan Opera House in New York; affectionately known to its patrons as “The Met”.
Pavarotti was born on October12, 1935 in Modeno Italy. His father, Fernando Povarotti was a baker by trade as well as a local singer; a trait which may have later influenced the young Luciano to pursue a career in the classical music world.
After trying a number of endeavors, including farming, teaching and even football, Pavarotti finally decided to embark on an opera singing career after it was discovered that he had what is known in the music world as “perfect pitch”. After achieving a certain degree of fame in his native Italy, including performances of the classic opera La Boheme at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, his first big international opportunity came in 1965, when he was invited to perform in the classic Lucia di Lammermoor at The Greater Miami Opera. Following this success, in which he received a long, standing ovation, there was no turning back for a man who has performed in virtually every well known opera house in the world, as well as in the cinema and on scores of television programs.
His first appearance at The Met was in February, 1972 when he performed in Donizetti’s opera classic La Filled du Regiment and so moved the audience that he received a record 17 curtain calls â€“ more than any other previous opera singer.
Pavarotti’s career was often filled with controversy as he frequently cancelled performing engagements which gave him the nickname of “Mr. Cancellation”. Despite this and frequent problems with both his weight and health, Pavarotti thrilled his audiences with his “perfect high C pitch” and often made appearances in television programs such as The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live. One of his most unusual performances, as well as one of his last, was in February 10, 2006, when he sang the opera song Nessan Dorma at the opening ceremony to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin Italy. That performance, the last scheduled one in the ceremony, resulted in the audience giving him the longest and noisiest ovation of the entire evening. Another event, also in 2006, and part of his farewell concert tour (he had already been diagnosed with cancer by then) included a special appearance along with the American soul music icon, James Brown.
Pavarotti has appeared in concert in Israel, as a special guest of the Israel Philharmonic orchestra; and he was planning to add his voice to some opera music being performed by the Israel Philharmonic, which was touring recently in Italy before Pavarotti’s death.
In addition to his sterling music career, Luciano Pavarotti was also well known for his humanitarian work in which he gave not only large sums of money, but also himself in charity concerts on behalf of numerous causes. Among his many friends was the late Princess Diana, who had herself become well known for her humanitarian work.
Pavarotti had often performed in a trio known as the Three Tenors, which included Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras; both renown in their own right. His death in his home town of Modeno came with his present wife, Nicoletta, and his four daughter at his side. Nicoletta, who he married in 2003, had been his personal assistant for many years.
It will take a great person to replace Pavarotti’s musical talent, but perhaps this may happen in the personage of an obscure Englishman named Paul Potts, who recently came from nowhere (he’s a cellular phone salesman) and won the U.K.’s talent equivalent of American Idol as a tenor opera singer. Anything is possible, but Pavarotti’s passing leaves some big shoes to fill in the world of opera music and performance.