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Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)

After a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer, operatic superstar Luciano Pavarotti is dead. Years ago, I gave my dear grandmother on my mother's side, who had never been to an opera in her life, one of Pavarotti's recordings. She enjoyed it so much that I eventually gave her every recording of his that I could find, to the chagrin of other family members who had to listen to them all the time. When she died last year, all of those recordings came back to my house, along with all of the cards that I had given Grandma, which she had kept all those years. Grandma was the first person I thought of when I heard of Pavarotti's death this morning. Tonight, Nessun dorma, nessun dorma -- I am going to be listening to all of Grandma's Pavarotti recordings and some of my own.

An enormous man, an enormous voice -- literally the voice of a half-century -- and an enormous ego, which goes right along with the territory. For me, many of the masterpieces of Italian opera will be best heard in the recordings he made, with Joan Sutherland and Mirella Freni and others, both because of their high quality and because they were the versions on which I trained my ears.

available at Amazon
available at Amazon
Il Trovatore
available at Amazon
La Fille du Régiment
available at Amazon
available at Amazon
La Bohème

Other tributes:
Opera Chic | Bernard Holland | BBC News | Richard Dyer | Marc Geelhoed
Juan Diego Flórez (via Opera Chic) | La Cieca | Alex Ross | Jens Laurson (WETA)

Nessun dorma, Royal Gala Concert, with conductor Kurt Adler, Royal Albert Hall, 1982

Schubert, Ave Maria, 1994


Akimon Azuki said...

Big up for Big Lucy, for making Charles' grandma and many many more so happy...
I have to say, in his good days, he always put a smile on my face. Other than his forays into Mozart (he sang a mean Idomeneo) he dealt with material almost 180 degree from what I usually like to hear - his was bel canto and other "crap" (thanks, Anna!), the Bohemian ditties, the soccer favorites. But the beauty of the voice and the sheer joy of singing always came through. And I am totally in awe of his Italian diction. In that area, and not just by today's garbled standards, he was really something else.
I will be listening to Ms Sarajevo by U2, where he chimes in with improvised lines that make this song really special.

Charles T. Downey said...

Thanks for the comment, Akimon.