It was October 12, 1935, in the outskirts of Modena, when the most angelic voice that humanity ever known, was born, in order to leave a great heritage of cultural monuments dressed by his interpretations. Luciano Pavarotti created a unique and universal reference for the abilities of the human voice.
His father, Fernando Pavarotti, was a baker and amateur tenor, and his mother, Adele Venturi, was working in a tobacco factory. His poor family had to leave their home at 1943, during the WWII, and live with difficulties in the Italian countryside.
The first dream of Luciano was to become a goalkeeper, however his father’s interest for music lead him to practice more vocals than football. His idol was the tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano, as well as Mario Lanza, for whom Pavarotti used to say: “In my teenage I went to watch the films of Mario Lanza and then I returned home, trying to imitate him in front of the mirror”. This is how his “career” started, as in the age of 9 he started singing with his father in a small church.
When he finished his studies at the Scuola Magistrale, he worked about 2 years as a teacher, but in 1954, in the age of 19, he started being seriously involved to music. Arrigo Pola, a famous teacher and professional tenor in Modena, accepted to teach him for free. In 1955 he was a member of Rossini choir with his father.
During his musical education, Luciano did many jobs for living, among them teacher in a Primary School and insurer.
1960s and 1970s
The first operatic role of Pavarotti was Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, at Teatro Municipale of Reggio Emilia, in April, 1961. His first international performance was in Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, in Belgrade, a role that he interpreted in the age of 23 at the Vienna State Opera. A milestone in his career was his debut at the Scala di Milano, where he interpreted again La Bohème’s Rodolfo, in a production of Franco Zeffirelli, under the direction of Herbert von Karajan and next to his childhood friend, Mirella Freni.
In 1969 his interpretations were recorded for the first time, as the opera I Lombardi, as presented in Rome, November 20, 1969, was his inaugural participation in an album. A series of Verdi’s Arias and the whole L’elisir d’amore followed.
1980s and 1990s
Pavarotti was already famous all over the world, with concerts in every corner of the planet, however the TV made him a true star for billions of people worldwide. In 1990, his interpretation of Nessun Dorma, from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, was the theme of BBC for the FIFA World Cup, held in Italy. This aria became almost a pop hit, as it is considered one of his most characteristic interpretations.
During the 90s he also started his collaboration with Plácido Domingo and Jose Carreras, who formed the “Three Tenors” in order to tour all around the world. Their first common appearance was in Terme di Caracalla, one day before the inaugural match of the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
From this collaboration one can distinguish the excellent setting of the south Italian traditional song, O Sole Mio, which became a real hit.
It was an era when audiences started to expand in numbers. It’s notable that the Three Tenors’ concert in London’s Hyde Park had an audience of about 150.000, in Eiffel Tower about 300.000 and in NY Central Park almost half a million!!!
In the late 90s, in the context of his humanitarian action, under the title “Pavarotti and Friends”, he collaborated with many other Pop and Rock stars, combining opera with other music genres. Among them they were BB King, Andrea Bocelli, U2, String, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clampton, Jon bon Jovi, George Michael, Bryan Adams, Zucchero, Maria Carey, Spice Girls, Ricky Martin and many more.
In 2004, Pavarotti, in the age of 69, having already a serious problem with his vocal chords, starts his last world tour, entitled “Farewell Tour”, with the objective to appear in the most destinations possible, for one last time. However this tour had many difficulties, with most important the operation that has to be performed in tenor’s throat, in New York, in March, 2005.
His last appearance was in the Olympic Stadium of Torino, at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, in February 10, 2006. Pavarotti was in a very bad physical condition to perform live and as it was revealed a posteriori, this performance was a playback. According to the conductor, Leone Magiera, “the orchestra pretended to play, I pretended to conduct and Pavarotti pretended to sing”. However this last performance had the appreciation that suits to the best one, with the audience’s endless applauding of this last act, into which Pavarotti presented his trademark, Puccini’s Nessun Dorma.
Pavarotti passed away in September 6, 2007, in his home in Modena, after a long fight, for more than a year, with pancreatic cancer. His funeral took place in Modena’s Cathedra, with many celebrities to be present, among them the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi and Kofi Annan, whereas aircrafts of the Italian air force painted the sky with the colors of the Italian flag. Countless Opera Theaters payed tribute to him that day, in all over the world.
…another side of Luciano…
Pavarotti was an insuperable tenor but also a human characterized by an amazing temperament, as any Italian who respects his origins! A little taste of this side of Luciano can be given in the following video!