Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI sadly died 6 September 2007 at the age of 71. He was born 12 October 1932. After abandoning the dream of becoming a football goalkeeper, Pavarotti spent seven years in vocal training. Pavarotti’s earliest musical influences were his father’s recordings, most of them featuring the popular tenors of the day – Beniamino Gigli, Giovanni Martinelli, Tito Schipa, and Enrico Caruso. Pavarotti’s favourite tenor and idol was Giuseppe Di Stefano. He was also deeply influenced by Mario Lanza, saying, “In my teens I used to go to Mario Lanza movies and then come home and imitate him in the mirror”. At around the age of nine he began singing with his father in a small local church choir. He graduated from the Scuola Magistrale and After training to be a teacher he subsequently began teaching, but finally allowed his interest in music to win out and began the serious study of music in 1954 at the age of 19 with Arrigo Pola, a respected teacher and professional tenor in Modena who offered to teach him without remuneration.In 1955, he experienced his first singing success when he was a member of the Corale Rossini, a male voice choir from Modena that also included his father, which won first prize at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. He later said that this was the most important experience of his life, and that it inspired him to become a professional singer.At about this time Pavarotti first met Adua Veroni. They married in 1961.
Pavarotti began his career as a tenor in smaller regional Italian opera houses, making his debut as Rodolfo in La bohème at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia in April 1961.with Joan Sutherland in I puritani (1976). He made his first international appearance in La traviata in Belgrade, Yugoslavia anddebuted at the Vienna State Opera in the same role. In 1963 Pavarotti again played Rodolfo and Duca di Mantova in Rigoletto in vienna and also sang in Dundalk, Ireland for the St Cecilia’s Gramophone Society and made his Royal Opera House debut, as Rodolfo.He got a lucky break when Joan Sutherland (and her conductor husband, Richard Bonynge), were looking for a young tenor taller than herself to take along on her tour to Australia.With his commanding physical presence, Pavarotti proved ideal.The two sang some forty performances over two months, .Pavarotti made his American début with the Greater Miami Opera in February 1965, singing in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor opposite Joan Sutherland on the stage of the Miami-Dade County Auditorium in Miami. Sutherland recommended the young Pavarotti as he was well acquainted with the role.,
Pavarotti made his La Scala debut in the revival of the famousFranco Zeffirelli production of La bohème, with his childhood friend Mirella Freni singing Mimi and Herbert von Karajan conducting. Karajan had requested the singer’s engagement. After an extended Australian tour, he returned to La Scala, where he added Tebaldo from I Capuleti e i Montecchi to his repertoire , with Giacomo Aragall as Romeo. His first appearance as Tonio in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment took place at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. It was his performances of this role that would earn him the title of “King of the High Cs”.He scored another major triumph in Rome when he sang in I Lombardi opposite Renata Scotto. Early commercial recordings included a recital of Donizetti (the aria from Don Sebastiano) and Verdi arias, as well as a complete L’elisir d’amore with Sutherland.His major breakthrough in the United States came on 17 February 1972, in a production of La fille du régiment at New York’sMetropolitan Opera, in which he drove the crowd into a frenzy with his nine effortless high Cs in the signature aria. He achieved a record seventeen curtain calls
Pavarotti sang his international recital début at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, 1973, as part of the college’s Fine Arts Program, now known as the Harriman-Jewell Series.He began to give frequent television performances, starting with his performances as Rodolfo (La bohème) in the first Live from the Mettelecast in March 1977, and won many Grammy awards and platinum and gold discs for his performances.In 1976, Pavarotti debuted at the Salzburg Festival, appearing in a solo recital on 31 July, accompanied by pianist Leone Magiera. Pavarotti returned to the festival in 1978 with a recital and as the Italian singer in Der Rosenkavalier in 1983 with Idomeneo, and both in 1985 and 1988 with solo recitals.In 1979, he was profiled in a cover story in the weekly magazine Time. That same year saw Pavarotti’s return to the Vienna State Opera after an absence of fourteen years. With Herbert von Karajan conducting, Pavarotti sang Manrico in Il trovatore. In 1978, he appeared in a solo recital on Live from Lincoln Center.
In the 1980s, he set up The Pavarotti International Voice Competition for young singers, performing with the winners in 1982 in excerpts of La bohème and L’elisir d’amore. The second competition, in 1986, staged excerpts of La bohème and Un ballo in maschera. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his career, he brought the winners to gala performances of La bohème in Modena and Genoa, and then to China where they staged performances of La bohème in Beijing (Peking). To conclude the visit, Pavarotti performed the inaugural concert in the Great Hall of the People before 10,000 people, receiving a standing ovation for nine effortless high Cs. The third competition in 1989 staged performances of L’elisir d’amore and Un ballo in maschera. The winners of the fifth competition accompanied Pavarotti in performances in Philadelphia in 1997.In the mid-1980s, Pavarotti returned to, the Vienna State Opera and La Scala. Vienna playing the role of Rodolfo in La bohème with Carlos Kleiber conducting and again Mirella Freni was Mimi; as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore; he was also cast as Radames in Aida conducted by Lorin Maazel; as Rodolfo in Luisa Miller; and as Gustavo in Un ballo in maschera. In 1996, Pavarotti appeared for the last time at the Staatsoper in Andrea Chénier.In 1985, Pavarotti sang Radames at La Scala opposite Maria Chiara in a Luca Ronconi production conducted by Maazel, recorded on video. His performance of the aria “Celeste Aida” received a two-minute ovation on the opening night. He was reunited with Mirella Freni for the San Francisco Opera production of La bohème in 1988, also recorded on video. In 1992, La Scala saw Pavarotti in a new Zeffirelli production of Don Carlos, conducted by Riccardo Muti.
Pavarotti became even better known throughout the world in 1990 when his rendition of the aria “Nessun Dorma” from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot was taken as the theme song of BBC’s TV coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. The aria achieved pop status and remained his trademark song. This was followed by the hugely successful Three Tenors concert, held on the eve of the World Cup final at the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome with fellow tenors Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and conductor Zubin Mehta, which became the biggest selling classical record of all time. A highlight of the concert, in which Pavarotti hammed up a famous portion of di Capua’s “O Sole Mio” and was mimicked by Domingo and Carreras to the delight of the audience, became one of the most memorable moments in contemporary operatic history. Throughout the 1990s, Pavarotti appeared in many well-attended outdoor concerts, including his televised concert in London’s Hyde Park, which drew a record attendance of 150,000. In June 1993, more than 500,000 listeners gathered for his free performance on the Great Lawn of New York’s Central Park, while millions more around the world watched on television. The following September, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, he sang for an estimated crowd of 300,000. Following on from the original 1990 concert, the Three Tenors concerts were held during the Football World Cups: in Los Angeles in 1994, in Paris in 1998, and in Yokohama in 2002.In 1995, Pavarotti’s friends, the singer Lara Saint Paul (as Lara Cariaggi) and her husband showman Pier Quinto Cariaggi, who had produced and organised Pavarotti’s 1990 FIFA World Cup Celebration Concert at the PalaTrussardi in Milan produced and wrote the television documentary The Best is Yet to Come, in which Pavarotti spoke candidly about his life and career. On 12 December 1998, he became the first (and, to date, only) opera singer to perform on Saturday Night Live, singing alongsideVanessa L. Williams. He also sang with U2 in the band’s 1995 song “Miss Sarajevo” and with Mercedes Sosa in a big concert at theBoca Juniors arena La Bombonera in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He has received an enormous number of awards and honours, including Grammy Legend Award. and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2001. He also holds two Guinness World Records: one for receiving the most curtain callsand another for the best-selling classical album (In Concert by The Three Tenors). (The latter record is thus shared by fellow tenors Plácido Domingo and José Carreras.)In late 2003, he released his final compilation—and his first and only “crossover” album, Ti Adoro. Most of the 13 songs were written and produced by Michele Centonze, who had already helped produce the “Pavarotti & Friends” concerts between 1998 and 2000. The tenor described the album as a wedding gift to Nicoletta Mantovani. That same year he was made a Commander of Monaco’s Order of Cultural Merit.Pavarotti began his farewell tour in 2004, at the age of 69, performing one last time in old and new locations, after more than four decades on the stage. On 13 March 2004, Pavarotti gave his last performance in an opera at the New York Metropolitan Opera, for which he received a long standing ovation for his role as the painter Mario Cavaradossi in Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca. On 1 December 2004, he announced a 40-city farewell tour. Pavarotti and his manager, Terri Robson, commissioned impresario Harvey Goldsmith to produce the Worldwide Farewell Tour.
His last full-scale performance was at the end of a two-month Australasian tour in Taiwan in December 2005.In March 2005, Pavarotti underwent neck surgery to repair two vertebrae. In early 2006, he underwent further back surgery and contracted an infection while in the hospital in New York, forcing cancellation of concerts in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.On 10 February 2006, Pavarotti sang “Nessun Dorma” at the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Turin, Italy, at his final performance. In the last act of the opening ceremony, his performance received the longest and loudest ovation of the night from the international crowd. Leone Magiera, who directed the performance, revealed in his 2008 memoirs, Pavarotti Visto da Vicino, that the performance was prerecorded weeks earlier. “The orchestra pretended to play for the audience, I pretended to conduct and Luciano pretended to sing. The effect was wonderful,” he wrote. Pavarotti’s manager, Terri Robson, said that the tenor had turned the Winter Olympic Committee’s invitation down several times because it would have been impossible to sing late at night in the subzero conditions of Turin in February. The committee eventually persuaded him to take part by prerecording the song.
Pavarotti annually hosted the “Pavarotti and Friends” charity concerts in Modena in Italy, joining with singers including Andrea Bocelli, Jon Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Bono, James Brown, Mariah Carey, Eric Clapton,Sheryl Crow, Céline Dion, Anastacia, Elton John, Deep Purple, Meat Loaf, Queen, George Michael, Sting and the Spice Girls, to raise money for several UN causes. Concerts were held for War Child, and victims of war and civil unrest in Bosnia, Guatemala, Kosovo and Iraq. After the war in Bosnia, 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. For these contributions, the city of Sarajevo named him an honorary citizen. He performed at benefit concerts to raise money for victims of tragedies such as the Spitak earthquake that killed 25,000 people in northern Armenia in December 1988, and sang Gounod’s Ave Maria with legendary French pop music star and ethnic Armenian Charles Aznavour.He was a close friend of Diana, Princess of Wales. They raised money for the elimination of land mines worldwide. He was invited to sing at her funeral service, but declined to sing, as he felt he could not sing well “with his grief in his throat”. Nonetheless, he attended the service.
In 1998, he was appointed the United Nations Messenger of Peace, using his fame to raise awareness of UN issues, including theMillennium Development Goals, HIV/AIDS, child rights, urban slums and poverty.In 1999, Pavarotti performed a charity benefit concert in Beirut, to mark Lebanon’s reemergence on the world stage after a brutal 15 year civil war. The largest concert held in Beirut since the end of the war, it was attended by 20,000 people who travelled from countries as distant as Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria.In 2001, Pavarotti received the Nansen Medal from the UN High Commission for Refugees for his efforts raising money on behalf ofrefugees worldwide. Through benefit concerts and volunteer work, he has raised more than any other individual.Other honours he received include the “Freedom of London Award” and The Red Cross “Award for Services to Humanity”, for his work in raising money for that organization, and the 1998 “MusiCares Person of the Year”, given to humanitarian heroes by the National Academy of Recording Arts and SciencesHe was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.
While undertaking an international “farewell tour,” in 2006 Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The tenor had major abdominal surgery and made plans for the resumption and conclusion of his singing commitments. However he eventually succumbed. his manager, Terri Robson, noted in an e-mail statement, “The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterized his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness”. Pavarotti’s funeral was held in Modena Cathedral. Romano Prodi and Kofi Annan attended. The Frecce Tricolori aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Air Force, flew overhead, leaving green-white-red smoke trails. After a funeral procession through the centre of Modena, Pavarotti’s coffin was taken to Montale Rangone, a village part of Castelnuovo Rangone, and was entombed in the Pavarotti family crypt.