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Pavarotti, Luciano

Category: Musician or composer

 

Luciano Pavarotti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (12 October 1935 – 6 September 2007) was an Italian operatic tenor who became one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time. He made numerous recordings of complete operas and individual arias, gaining worldwide fame for the brilliance and beauty of his tone—especially into the upper register—and eventually established himself as one of the finest tenors of the 20th century. 

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.

He received an enormous number of awards and honours, including Kennedy Center Honors in 2001. He also holds two Guinness World Records: one for receiving the most curtain calls (165) and 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 1998, Pavarotti was presented with the Grammy Legend Award.  In 2003, he was made a Commander of Monaco's Order of Cultural Merit.  He posthumously received the Italy-USA Foundation's America Award in 2013.

The man with the big heart

Pavarotti was driven – inspired – by love.  Love for his family, love for his fellow man, love for his fellow creatures and its planet.  It was also driven by his love for music – and it was music that enabled him to touch the spiritual.

From Peregrine Horden – Musical Solutions quoting the Radio Times of 11th – 17th July 1998
'While I'm singing my soul is beautiful', mused Luciano Pavarotti, drawing on the analogy between personal and cosmic order.
‘It's not ego, like some think. It's therapy - for me and the audience- People who listen to music want to be happy in this stupid life today when everyone has taken to drugs ... There have been periods in life when religion was important ......  
The god of today is negative gossip.


with his Mum and Dad

So he thought of music as a form of therapy for the ills of the world, a way of transcending hate and negativity and touching the sublime.  And indeed Luciano Pavarotti was a lark ascending.

During his first appearance as Tonio in Donizetti's La fille du régiment at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, he was first given the title of "King of the High Cs".  On 17 February 1972, in a production of La fille du régiment at New York's Metropolitan Opera, he “drove the crowd into a frenzy with his nine effortless high Cs in the signature aria. He achieved a record seventeen curtain calls”.  And again, when Pavarotti performed in the Great Hall of the People in China before 10,000 people, he received a standing ovation for nine effortless high Cs.

His love for humanity is evident in the great number of concerts and other events he organised to help those in need.

Pavarotti annually hosted the Pavarotti & Friends charity concerts in his home town of Modena in Italy, joining with singers from all parts of the music industry, to raise money for several UN causes.

He was a close friend of Diana, Princess of Wales. They raised money
for the elimination of land mines worldwide.

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 in 2006.

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.

In 1998, he was appointed the United Nations Messenger of Peace, using his fame to raise awareness of UN issues, including the Millennium Development Goals, HIV/AIDS, child rights, urban slums and poverty.

with Frank Sinatra

In 1999, Pavarotti performed a charity benefit concert in Beirut, to mark Lebanon's re-emergence 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 of refugees 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 Sciences.

Personal life

with Adua

Pavarotti began the serious study of music in 1954 at the age of 19.  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 had three daughters by his first wife Adua, to whom he was married for 34 years: Lorenza, Cristina, and Giuliana.

with his children

During his years of musical study, Pavarotti held part-time jobs in order to sustain himself – first as an elementary school teacher and then as an insurance salesman. The first six years of study resulted in only a few recitals, all in small towns and without pay.

Then a nodule developed on his vocal cords, causing a "disastrous" concert in Ferrara, he decided to give up singing.  But suddenly he realised that singing was not an academic exercise that requires years of intensive study, it must come from the heart, be of the heart, and he stopped the lessons and the intensive study and instead started to sing with all the emotion he could muster.

Pavarotti ‘attributed his immediate improvement to the psychological release connected with this decision’. The nodule not only disappeared but, as he related in his autobiography: "Everything I had learned came together with my natural voice to make the sound I had been struggling so hard to achieve".

You can read his full biography on Wikipedia, a career of success after success. 

Death

with Alice and his second wife

In January 2003, his personal assistant, Nicoletta Mantovani (born 1969), gave birth to his twins.  Only one survived – his daughter, Alice. Alice's twin brother, Riccardo, was stillborn after complications.  On 13 December 2003, he married Nicoletta Mantovani, but something had touched his heart and it appears to have broken. 

There are stories he lost touch with all the friends he so loved and valued, that he lost touch with his daughters - the centre of his life.

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. And whilst undertaking an international "farewell tour", in July 2006, Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The tenor allowed himself to be subjected to major abdominal surgery, but he died at his home in Modena on 6 September 2007.

 

Pavarotti's funeral was held in Modena Cathedral.

The then Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Kofi Annan attended. The Frecce Tricolori, the 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 the final ten kilometres to Montale Rangone, a village part of Castelnuovo Rangone, and was entombed in the Pavarotti family crypt.  The lark has ascended.

 

'While I'm singing my soul is beautiful'

 

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