Luciano Pavarotti is considered by many to be the greatest male singer since Enrico Caruso, and in his prime—the mid-1970s—he was probably the century’s best lyric tenor. He is known for his extraordinary vocal capacity, earning the nickname “King of the High Cs” after executing the string of high notes in Gaetano Donizetti’s fiendishly difficult La Fille du regiment. His voice, at once capable of sweetness and immense volume, is considered the ideal medium for Italian opera’s celebrated bel canto works, those works calling for purity of tone and articulation even in the upper register. Pavarotti has embraced such works gleefully, and with both his extraordinary voice and his endearing, puckish personality, he is largely perceived as the opera performer who best recalls previous greats such as Caruso and Jussi Bjoerling. As Hubert Saal noted in a 1976 Newsweek, “More than any other tenor today, Luciano Pavarotti … summons up the legendary golden age of singing.”
Born in Modena, Italy, in 1935, Pavarotti sang from early childhood. At home, he was often exposed to recordings by Caruso, Bjoerling, and Benaimino Gigli. Though an impressive singer, Pavarotti aspired in his youth to a career as a professional soccer player. His mother, however, urged him to pursue a more realistic career, and in the 1950s he trained as a teacher. He subsequently taught at an elementary school for two years, but with his father’s encouragement he continued to train his voice. Pavarotti’s efforts proved successful in 1961 when he won a music contest and secured the role of Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme in nearby Regia Emilia. His success in Puccini’s great opera led to further roles in such works as Donizetti’s dramatic masterwork Lucia di Lammermoor.
Throughout the early 1960s, Pavarotti continued to distinguish himself in the bel canto repertoire, enjoying particular success with celebrated soprano Joan Sutherland in Donizetti operas, including L’Elisir d’amore and the aforementioned Lucia di Lammermoor. In still another Donizetti work, La Fille du regiment, he awed audiences by soaring through the difficult string of high Cs that mark the opera’s highlight. Word soon spread through the opera world of Pavarotti’s extraordinary capacity for sustained vocal purity, and in 1967 he made his American debut as Rodolfo in a San Francisco Opera production of La Boheme. The following year he reprised the role at the Metropolitan Opera, whereupon he won great praise for his supremely beautiful singing. By the end of the decade Pavarotti was recognized as a supreme force in bel canto opera, distinguishing himself further with his performances on recordings of La Fill du regiment and Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda.
Born October 12, 1935, in Modena, Italy; son of Fernando (a baker) and Adele (a tobacco-processing factory worker; maiden name, Venturi) Pavarotti; married Adua Veroni, September 30, 1961; children: Lorenza, Cristina, Giuliana. Education: Diploma magistrale (teaching diploma) from Instituto Magistrale Carlo Sigonio, 1955; studied voice with Arrio Pola, Ettore Campogalliani.
Worked as a teacher in elementary schools and as an insurance salesman prior to musical career; lyric tenor, 1961—, debuted as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Boheme, Regia Emilia, Italy, 1961; debuted in United States in Miami, Fla., 1965; has given numerous international operatic performances and concerts. Actor in film “Yes, Giorgio,” 1982.
Awards: Recipient of numerous international awards, including Grammy awards for best classical vocal soloist, 1978, 1979, and 1981; named Grand Officer of Italian Republic; recipient of Noce d’Oro National Prize; winner of Luigi Illica international prize; awarded first prize Gold Orfeo by Academie du Disque Lyrique de France.
Addresses: Home— Via Giardini 941, 41040 Saliceta, Modena, Italy. Office—c/o Herbert Breslin, 119 West 57th. St., New York, NY 10019.
Aside from mastering the bel canto repertoire, Pavarotti also earned distinction with his performances in works by Giuseppe Verdi, who is often considered Italy’s master opera composer. Among Pavarotti’s greatest Verdi roles at this time was the duke in Rigoletto, in which capacity he inevitably astounded audiences with his rendition of the well-known “Donna e mobile.” As his voice grew in richness and depth, Pavarotti broadened his own repertoire to include other Verdi operas, notably//Trovatore, where his rousing interpretation of Manrico’s call to war often inspired wild enthusiasm from opera lovers. Other roles Pavarotti assumed at this time include Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca and the Calaf—though on recording only—in Puccini’s Turandot.” Nessun dorma,” the tenor centerpiece of this work, has become a mainstay of Pavarotti’s solo performances.
In the 1980s, Pavarotti has strengthened his status as one of the opera world’s leading figures. Since his first appearance on the Metropolitan Opera’s stage, Pavarotti has expanded his repertoire with considerable success, assaying works ranging from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Idomeneo to Verdi’s Aida, while continuing to appear in those works—notably La Boheme, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Rigoletto, which helped established him as one of the century’s great tenors. Televised performances of Pavarotti in many of his greatest roles have enabled him to not only sustain his status but to considerably broaden his appeal, reaching millions of viewers each time one of his opera performances and solo concerts or recitals is broadcast. He has also shown increasing flexibility as a recording artist. While he continues to appear on recordings of complete operas—with Idomeneo and Bellini’s Norma among his most impressive records from the 1980s—he has also released collections of Italian folk songs and even an album of compositions by Henry Mancini.
Pavarotti seems comfortable with his vast popularity. Although mobbed in public and worshipped in the opera house, he stays committed to serving his art. Unabashed in proclaiming his own pursuit of fame and acclaim—”I want to be famous everywhere,” he told Newsweek’s Saal—he greatly reciprocates his fans’ dedication and shows a marked appreciation for the attention he is accorded by music lovers everywhere. “I tell you,” he confided to Saal, “the time spent signing autographs is never long enough.”
Collections and concert recordings
Best of Pavarotti (four-record set), London.
Bravo Pavarotti (two-record set), London.
Great Pavarotti, London.
Pavarotti’s Greatest Hits (two-record set), London.
Pavarotti in Concert, London.
O Solo Mio-Neopolitan Songs, London.
Verismo Arias, London.
World’s Favorite Tenor Arias, London.
Yes, Giorgio (motion picture soundtrack), London.
Bellini, Vicenzo, Norma, London.
Bellini, I Puritani, London.
Donizetti, Gaetano, La Fille du regimente, London.
Donizetti, La Favorita, London.
Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor, London.
Donizetti, L’Elisir d’amore, London.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, Idomeneo, London.
Puccini, Giacamo, La Boheme, London.
Puccini, Madama Butterfly, London.
Puccini, Turandot, London.
Puccini, Tosca, London.
Verdi, Giuseppe, Aida, London.
Verdi, Un Ballo in maschera, London.
Verdi, Rigoletto, London.
Verdi, La Traviata, London.
(with William Wright)Pavarotti: My Own Story (autobiography), Warner Books, 1982.
Hines, Jerome, Great Singers on Great Singing, Doubleday, 1982.
Matheopoulos, Helena, Divo: Great Tenors, Baritones, and Basses Discuss Their Roles, Harper, 1986.
Mayer, Martin, and Gerald Fitzgerald, Grandissimo Pavarotti, Doubleday, 1986.
Pavarotti, Luciano, and William Wright, Pavarotti: My Own Story, Doubleday, 1981.
Schoenberg, Harold, The Glorious Ones: Classical Music’s Legendary Performers, Times Books, 1985.
Tenors, edited by Herbert H. Breslin, Macmillan, 1974.
Esquire, June 5, 1979.
Newsweek, March 15, 1976.
New York, May 18, 1981, January 27, 1986.
New Yorker, October 15, 1973.
Opera News, December 10, 1983, March 29, 1986.
Time, October 25, 1976.
Luciano Pavarotti is one of the only contemporary opera singers to gain so much fame that he became a household name. He inspired opera fans and intrigued other listeners to discover an interest in opera. He even developed a program to encourage young opera singers. But he also received a significant amount of criticism throughout and because of his success. Critics and others in the industry chastised him for his popularity and concert performances, television appearances, and film roles. However, even his detractors cannot deny the power of his reach as the most listened to opera singer in history. Alain Levy, president/CEO of Polygram Records summed up the span of his influence to Paul Verna in Billboard.” Pavarotti’s remarkable talents have encouraged both a new generation of music lovers and an older generation which hadn’t listened to opera for a long time,” he said.
Pavarotti was born in Modena, Italy, on October 12, 1935. His father was a baker, and sang in the chorus at the local opera house on the side. His mother worked in a cigar factory. Pavarotti discovered his love for music at a young age. He began singing in the church choir at the age of five. He also spent his childhood as the neighborhood entertainer. “As a little boy in my apartment house, they would fight to have me for dinner because I was funny—the way I imitated the grownups,” Pavarotti told Mary Ellin Barrett in Cosmopolitan.” But at home, I imitated the voices on the Victrola—Caruso, Bjoerlin, Gigli, and my father.”
Pavarotti struggled with a blood infection at the age of 12. He fell into a coma for 20 hours before regular doses of antibiotics saved his life. “These tragedies leave you sensitive to the beauties of the world,” Pavarotti explained to Sarah Moore-Hall in People. Although he continued his singing by joining his father in the opera chorus, he didn’t consider a career in music until later. He played soccer as a teenager and had decided to become a teacher of math and gymnastics.
The Modena opera chorus won first prize in an international music festival in Wales, when Pavarotti was a teenager. After that, his mother began encouraging him to pursue his singing. He eventually decided to follow her suggestion, and he took a job as an insurance salesman to help pay for his voice lessons.
In 1961, Pavarotti won the Concorso Internazionale, along with the prize of a professional performance of a complete opera. On April 29, 1961, he claimed his reward with his debut appearance as Rodolfo in Puccini’s
For the Record…
Born Luciano Pavarotti on October 12, 1935, in Modena, Italy; married Adua Veroni; children: Lorenza, Christiana, Guiliana.
Began singing at the age of five in church; performed in the Modena opera chorus growing up; first professional performance as Rodolfo in La Boheme, 1961; sang Idamente in Mozart’s Idomeneo at Glyndebourne Festival, 1964; U.S. debut in Lucia di Lammermoor, 1965; signed with Decca Records, 1967; sang nine high C’s in La Fille du Regiment, 1972; performed and recorded debut with Three Tenors, 1990.
Addresses: Record company —Decca/Polygram Records, 825 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019.
La Boheme at Reggio Emilia. During the same year, he married Adua Veroni, his wife of nearly 35 years. He repeated the role of Rodolfo in Vienna in 1963. Establishing himself as a professional opera singer, Pavarotti went on to sing Lucia di Lammermoor in Amsterdam, Vienna, and Zurich.
He gained worldwide notoriety in September of 1963, when he filled in for an ailing Giuseppe de Stefano in La Boheme at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. This experience led to his first appearances on television and a growing popularity. By the end of the year, he had sung in Spain, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary. His performances caught the attention of conductor Richard Bonynge, husband of the Australian opera singer Joan Sutherland. The exposure led Sutherland to ask Pavarotti to sing with her on a 14-week tour of Australia.
Pavarotti continued his notoriety in the role of Idamante in Mozart’s, Idomeneo at the prestigious Glyndebourne Festival. In February of 1965, he made his U.S. debut with Joan Sutherland in a performance of Donizetti’s, Lucia di Lammermoor. He also sang the role of Rodolfo at La Scala in Milan with his childhood friend Mirella Freni, under the direction of Herbert von Karajan. He-continued to sing, La Bohemes Rodolfo, with appearances in San Francisco in 1967 and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera (the “Met”) in 1968. It became his signature role in the early years of his career.
Luciano Pavarotti moved to a whole new level in his career in 1972, with a performance at the Metropolitan Opera. In his role of Tonio in, La Fille du Regiment (“Daughter of the Regiment”) he belted out nine high C’s in a row, impressing every audience that season. His accomplishment led to an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where he gained a whole new legion of fans. From then on, he became known as the “King of High C’s.”
Pavarotti explained how he felt during those famous opera nights at the Met to David Remnick in the New Yorker. “I was so scared, I didn’t know which muscle to use most, the throat or the sphincter,” he said. When he sang his first formal recital on February 1, 1973, in Liberty, Missouri, Pavarotti began what one critic called “Pavarotti Pandemonium.” His performances and records began to sell out regularly. In 1976, he became the first classical artist to receive a platinum album with, O Holy Night. The following year, he sang, La Boheme with Mirella Freni in the first “Live from the Met” telecast. Mary Ellin Barrett described Pavarotti in, Cosmopolitan as, “The charismatic who, in the ’Live from the Met’ telecast of, La Boheme —another historic first—proved that a fat man with a receding hairline and a jovial round face, pouring forth heavenly song, could become a sex symbol.”
Although he continued to sing in opera houses all over the world, such as his 1977 performance of, Turandot at the San Francisco Opera, he also perpetuated his records and television appearances. His album release, Hits from Lincoln Center won a Grammy Award in 1979. Along with his popularity, Pavarotti felt a distinct connection with his audiences. He referred to his public as his “boss.” He was in the midst of his role as Nemorino in, L’Elisir d’Amore, when he had one of his most memorable experiences from the appreciation of his “boss.” “In Chicago, when I was age 44, after, L’Elisir d’Amore, the orchestra played ’Happy Birthday, ’ and the audience sang,” Pavarotti recalled to Leslie Rubenstein in, Opera News. “It was so unexpected; I wept.”
Pavarotti won another Grammy Award in 1980 for his hit album, O Sole Mb. The new decade led to even more exposure and rising comparisons to the tenor Enrico Caruso. In June of 1980, he sang the role of the duke in, Rigoletto for more than 200,000 people on the Metropolitan Opera’s summer stage in Central Park. He went on to perform a successful stint of, Turandot at the Met the following season. “The attention is like a drug to him,” his wife Adua Pavarotti told, Life. “He likes to feel grand.” Indeed, his quest for more attention did not wane, nor did the public’s willingness to give it to him. In 1981 Pavarotti received an invitation to sing “Torna a Sorrento” at the Academy Awards. The following year, he initiated an international competition for young, aspiring opera singers to fuel the interest in the art form. The winners of the competitions would receive the opportunity to sing on stage with Pavarotti himself.
In 1982 Pavarotti ventured into another medium with his starring role in the $18 million movie, Yes, Giorgio. He played an Italian opera singer who had fallen in love with a young American woman. As Pavarotti approached his early 1950s, his schedule of singing appearances slowly diminished. He began to receive more criticisms of his commerciality and his changing voice. “Unfortunately, there are those who don’t take me seriously because I make commercials or cook spaghetti on a talk show,” Pavarotti told Sarah Moore-Hall in, People.” But these are things that will bring this little world of opera to a larger audience, and I don’t care how we do it. We have to go to the people, and if someone doesn’t understand, it’s too bad.”
Luciano Pavarotti spent the mid-1980s traveling across the globe. In 1986, he sang, La Boheme in Beijing, China. The performance was broadcast to a Chinese audience of more than 250 million. The film Distant Harmony depicts his journey to China along with footage of the show. He returned to the Met before the end of the year to play the role of Radames in, Aida. Two years later, he opened the opera season at the Metropolitan Opera with, II Trovatore,which he sang with Eva Marton and Sherril Milnes.
The 1990s brought Pavarotti into a new era of his musical career, less focused on opera and more on commercial records and concerts. He participated in the recording of, Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti in Concert, which became known as “The Three Tenors,” and sold over a million copies. The trio sang at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome for the closing ceremonies of the World Cup Soccer Championship. In July of 1991, he sang a concert for Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Wales, along with an audience of 150,000 others, in London’s Hyde Park.
The Metropolitan Opera continued to host Pavarotti during its season. In 1990 the Met organized a new production of, Un Ballo in Maschera for the famous tenor. The following year, he starred with Kathleen Battle in, Elisir d’Amore. Mostly, though, Pavarotti increased his concerts and peppered them with opera shows.
In February of 1992, he sang the role of Canio for the first time in a concert performance of, Pagliacci,with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Then, he opened La Scala’s next season with Verdi’s, Don Carlo. He presented another concert in Central Park in June of 1993. This time, he sang to a crowd of 500,000 in person and to millions more in the telecast on PBS and throughout Europe.
That same year, he celebrated his 25th anniversary season of singing at the Metropolitan Opera. On the season’s opening night, Pavarotti sang the first act of Verdi’s, Otello on stage for the first time in his career. Recognizing his longevity, Pavarotti and others in the opera community also noted a lack of young potential replacements in the genre. “When I was growing up, there were 30 great tenors, not three,” Pavarotti told David Remnick in the, New Yorker. “I don’t know why things are now the way they are.”
Pavarotti’s long-time record label, Polygram’s Decca Records, extended his contract in 1994. Since he first signed with them in 1967, the opera tenor sold more than 50 million albums and had made more than 60 recordings. On July 16, 1997, The Three Tenors returned to the World Cup Soccer Championship for an encore performance. They sold-out the Los Angeles concert and sang to about 56,000 people at Dodger Stadium. Telecast live all over the world, the trio actually performed for an estimated audience of about 1.3 billion. Decca released the performance as, Three Tenors II.
Luciano Pavarotti organized several more collaborations for his, Pavarotti & Friends albums, which included duets with pop star Bryan Adams, soprano Nancy Gustafson, tenor Andrea Bocelli, and new age artist Andreas Vollenweider. In September of 1995, he organized a benefit concert for the children of Bosnia, which included Michael Bolton, Brian Eno, U2’s Bono, and the Chieftains. The concert was also released on an album.
With the help of writer William Wright, Pavarotti published his autobiography called, My World ’in November of 1995. The book exemplified the extent of Pavarotti’s success as a singer and as a celebrity. Michael Walsh wrote in, New York, “With stadium concerts, TV specials, and a chatty new autobiography, Pavarotti is bigger—way bigger—than opera itself.”
In 1996, Pavarotti sang Giordano’s, Andrea Chenier at both the Met and at Lincoln Center. Terry Teachout wrote in, Opera News, “The remarkable thing about Pavarotti, of course is not merely that he is still singing, but that his essential vocal qualities remain, for the most part, intact.”
The Three Tenors returned in 1997 with a 12-city world tour, beginning on New Year’s Eve. The mid-to late-1990s began to produce more and more critical reviews of Pavarotti’s performances. Heidi Waleson wrote in a review of his recital at the Metropolitan Opera, “Listening to Mr. Pavarotti today is like looking at a well-made mummy. The shape is there, but the blood and breath that gave the creature life have withered away.”
Pavarotti announced his retirement date as the year 2001. By that time, he will have worked as a professional opera singer for 40 years. “I am always a student till the last day of my profession, when perhaps I will think [I know] what I am,” Pavarotti told Barrett in, Cosmopolitan. “But now, that is not my character. My character is to take life as it is. The mutual love I have with the public is everywhere. But I am ready to accept this situation when the public will not love me. Then, I will stop.”
O Holy Night, Decca Records, 1976.
Hits from Lincoln Center, Decca Records, 1978.
O Sole Mio, Decca Records, 1980.
Arias, Airs, Arien, Decca Records, 1982.
Mamma, Decca Records, 1984.
Passione, Decca Records, 1985.
In Concert, Decca Records, 1987.
Volare, Decca Records, 1987.
At Carnegie Hall, Decca Records, 1988.
Carreras Domingo Pavarotti in Concert, Decca Records, 1990.
Live Recordings (1964-1967), Decca Records, 1991.
Pavarotti in Hyde Park, Decca Records, 1991.
Pavarotti Songbook, Decca Records, 1991.
Ti Amo, Decca Records, 1993.
My Heart’s Delight, Decca Records, 1993.
Early Years, Volume 1, Decca Records, 1994.
Three Tenors II, Decca Records, 1994.
Early Years, Volume 2, Decca Records, 1995.
Pavarotti & Friends 2, Decca Records, 1995.
Verdi: II Travatore, Decca Records, 1995.
Pavarotti Plus, Decca Records, 1995.
Pavarotti & Friends for War Child,Decca Records, 1996.
Pavarotti & Friends Together for the Children of Bosnia, Decca Records, 1996.
Los Angeles, Decca Records, 1996.
The Great Luciano Pavarotti, Decca Records, 1996.
Billboard, November 16, 1985; April 9, 1994; May 13, 1995.
Cosmopolitan, November 1980.
Entertainment Weekly, December 13, 1996.
Harper’s Bazaar, September 1988.
Information Please Almanac, 1995.
Life, October 1980.
Maclean’s, January 13, 1997.
New York, May 18, 1981; November 13, 1995.
New Yorker, June 21, 1993.
Opera News, September 1982; March 29, 1986; September 1993; December 14, 1996.
People, November 17, 1980; September 29, 1986; March 11, 1996.
Time, March 4, 1996.
Wall Street Journal, January 23, 1997.
born: modena, italy, 12 october 1935
best-selling album since 1990: romantica: the very best of luciano pavarotti (2002)
hit songs since 1990: "nessun dorma!" from puccini's "turandot"
Luciano Pavarotti is the most celebrated operatic tenor since Enrico Caruso. His name is a household word and is as adored and respected outside of the opera world as within it. Pavarotti's remarkable four-decade career has included spectacular triumphs at virtually every major opera house in the world. Through his many best-selling recordings and videos, his television and film appearances, and his eagerness to bring opera to a wider public by performing operatic arias in sold-out sports arenas and outdoor stadiums, Pavarotti has been heard by more people and has done more to promote interest in opera than any singer in the genre's history.
Tenor by Birth and Climb to the Top
Pavarotti was born on the outskirts of Modena, Italy. The doctor who delivered him is said to have declared upon hearing his first cry that he would grow up to be a tenor. No prediction could have been more pleasing to his father Fernando, a baker by trade but himself a tenor in the town's chorus. Young Pavarotti grew up listening to and mimicking his father's voice as well as his vast opera recording collection. By the age of four, it is said that Pavarotti would regularly climb up on the kitchen table and sing "La donna è mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto.
The young Pavarotti joined his father in singing in the town chorus and was soon studying with Arrigo Pola, and later with Ettore Campogralliani, who were the only voice teachers Pavarotti ever had. Though all agreed that Pavarotti's voice showed remarkable promise, he chose to attend teaching college rather than pursue a career in the arduous and uncertain world of professional singing.
A superb soccer player in his youth, Pavarotti worked as an elementary school gym and math teacher and an insurance salesman for a living while continuing to pursue his love of singing on the side. In 1961 Pavarotti won the Achille Peri Prize, which opened the door for him to make his professional debut as Rodolfo in Puccini's La bohème first in Reggio Emilia, and then one by one across the regional opera houses of Italy. Two years later, Pavarotti was in London as an understudy to his childhood idol Giuseppe di Stefano for the same role at Covent Garden, stepping in when di Stefano became ill both for the performance and for a "Live from the Palladeum" television broadcast that was seen by 15 million British viewers.
Conductor Richard Bonynge soon engaged Pavarotti to sing alongside his wife, soprano Joan Sutherland, which began an extraordinary nearly thirty-year partnership that lasted until Sutherland's retirement in 1990. Bonynge had been systematically revitalizing demanding bel canto coloratura roles for Sutherland and Pavarotti's high range, sterling clarity, and rich timbre were the perfect complement to Sutherland's highly ornamented stratospheric singing. The couple's appearances in Donezetti's La Fille du Régiment at Covent Garden in 1966, at La Scala in Milan in 1968, and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1972 were nothing less than sensations for Pavarotti. For the first time in the modern era, a tenor sang out in full voice and with complete confidence and beauty all nine of the high C's in the treacherous aria "Pour mon âme, quel destin!" Even the most finicky opera lovers were stunned and gave the tenor explosive, rock concert-like ovations while dubbing Pavarotti the "King of the High C's."
Reaching a Wider Public and Using Amplification
The Pavarotti phenomenon reached its artistic peak in the mid-1970s, when the Teflon tenor seemed to be virtually invincible in his consistent ability to produce glorious sounds while enthusiastically walking the tenor tightrope in sold-out opera houses in more than sixty countries. In an effort to accommodate the myriad fans that wanted a live Pavarotti encounter, Pavarotti began performing recitals and concerts in front of huge audiences in concert halls, arenas, city squares, stadiums, and parks. In 1980 more than 200,000 people attended Pavarotti's concert performance of Rigoletto in New York's Central Park and in 1991 more than 250,000 British Pavarotti enthusiasts—including Prince Charles and Princess Diana—stood out in the rain in London's Hyde Park to hear him. In 1986 Pavarotti traveled to China to sing La bohème and performed a televised concert in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing that was seen by more than 100 million Chinese viewers. More than half a million people jammed into Central Park to hear Pavarotti sing a 1993 concert that was televised live via satellite across the world.
The downside of these constant outdoor concerts and arena appearances became Pavarotti's increasing dependence on amplification as his voice began to wane in intensity and range. These shortcomings could be compensated for through clever sound mixing and Pavarotti began curtailing his appearances in staged operas and legitimate concert halls. When he did agree to appear in unamplified venues, cancellations became frequent and vocal problems began to emerge. Many of the same audiences who had so adored him as the "King of the High C's" were quick to turn on Pavarotti when he would crack a high note or when his diminished natural projection was such that he was barely audible above an orchestra.
At the 1990 World Cup of soccer in Rome, Pavarotti and his colleague and nearest tenor rival Plácido Domingo gave their colleague José Carreras a triumphant welcome back in a live televised outdoor concert following Carreras's dramatic recovery from leukemia. The resulting recording and video, called The Three Tenors, became an international cultural phenomenon that has been widely repeated, emulated, and even parodied.
In 1992 Pavarotti and several rock and pop artists redefined crossover by giving a massive outdoor concert for charity in his hometown of Modena. Called "Pavarotti & Friends," Sting, Zucchero, Lucia Dalla, the Neville Brothers, Aaron Neville, Suzanne Vega, Mike Oldfield, Brian May, and Bob Geldof performed both pop and classical music individually and with each other. The concert included Pavarotti and Sting singing a duet of Franck's "Panis angelicus" and the entire group joining Pavarotti in a sing-along finale of "La donna . . . mobile." Purists balked, but the resulting video and compact disc were enormously successful and Pavarotti & Friends became a regular event, attracting some of the biggest names in the music business. Princess Diana attended the 1995 concert for the children of Bosnia, which featured U2's Bono and the Edge along with U2 producer and the Velvet Underground's Brian Eno, Meat Loaf, Michael Bolton, and Dolores O'Riordon of the Cranberries. The event culminated with a Bolton-dominated "Nessun dorma!" sing-along finale. The 1996 "War Child" concert attracted Eric Clapton, Elton John, Liza Minnelli, Joan Osborne, and Sheryl Crow, and featured a sing-along finale of John's "Live Like Horses."
By the 1998 concert for the children of Liberia, pop music producer Phil Ramone began producing the music and film director Spike Lee began directing the films of the Pavarotti & Friends concerts. The Liberian benefit included Celine Dion, the Spice Girls, Jon Bon Jovi, Natalie Cole, the Corrs, Vanessa Williams, Trisha Yearwood, and Stevie Wonder. Wonder wrote a song for the occasion, "Peace Wanted Just to Be Free," which he sang in duet with Pavarotti as a finale to the proceedings. The 1999 concert to benefit Guatemala and Kosovo featured Mariah Carey, Joe Cocker, Gloria Estefan, B.B. King, Boyzone, Ricky Martin, and Lionel Richie. In some truly unusual moments, Pavarotti even provided improvisational humming alongside of King in "The Thrill Is Gone" and provided the hook for a Ritchie-led "We Are the World" finale. His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet attended the 2000 benefit for Cambodia and Tibet, which included the Eurythmics, Tracy Chapman, Savage Garden, George Michael, Enrique Iglesias, and an "All You Need Is Love" sing-along finale.
Perhaps to complement such eclectic extravaganzas, Pavarotti did occasionally acquiesce to take on new artistic challenges late in his career. In 1991, for instance, Pavarotti sang his first ever performances of Verdi's Otello, the crown jewel of dramatic Italian tenor roles that would have been an enormous challenge for Pavarotti, a lyric tenor, to take on even in his prime. The occasion was the retirement of longtime Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Sir Georg Solti, and concert performances took place in Orchestra Hall in Chicago and Carnegie Hall in New York, which were recorded live for compact disc release. The recorded results are mediocre, at best, and in live performance there were moments of near disaster. Though Pavarotti had hoped to one day perform Otello in the opera house, his vocal problems with the role kept that from occurring.
Pavarotti's highly anticipated formal retirement from operatic performance was to have been another dramatic tenor role—Puccini's Tosca —at the Met in 2002, but it never came to be. The tenor sang the dress rehearsal but cancelled the performance mere hours before he was to go on. His manager begged Pavarotti, who said he was suffering from the flu, to at least show up to take a bow for those who had paid as much as $1,800 a seat to hear his final operatic performance, but Pavarotti refused. Pavarotti will turn seventy in 2005, and in 2002 jokingly announced that as of that milestone birthday he would no longer be singing, even in the shower. Yet Pavarotti's father sang well into his eighties, and cynics point out that a few more high C's may well be squeezed out of him beyond that date with enough public demand, financial incentive, and, of course, amplification.
Giordano, Andrea Chénier (Decca re-release, 1984); Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor (Decca re-release, 1985); Donizetti, L'elisir d'amore (Deutsche Grammaphon, 1990); O Holy Night (Decca re-release, 1990); O Sole Mio (Decca re-release, 1990); Passione (Decca re-release, 1990); Pavarotti at Carnegie Hall (Decca re-release, 1990); Volare (Decca re-release, 1990); Boito, Mefistofele (Decca re-release, 1990); Donizetti, L'elisir d'amore (Decca re-release, 1990); Donizetti, La Fille du Régiment (Decca re-release, 1990); Mascagni, Cavelleria Rusticana/Leoncavallo /Pagliacci (Decca re-release, 1990); Puccini, La bohème (Decca re-release, 1990); Puccini, Madama Butterfly (Decca re-release, 1990); Puccini, Tosca (Decca re-release, 1990); Puccini, Turandot (Decca re-release, 1990); Rossini, Guglielmo Tell (Decca re-release, 1990); Verdi, Requiem (Decca re-release, 1990); Verdi, Il trovatore (Decca re-release, 1990); Verdi, Rigoletto (Decca re-release, 1990); Verismo (Decca re-release, 1990); Verdi, La traviata (Decca re-release, 1991); Verdi, Otello (Decca, 1991); Pavarotti in Hyde Park (Decca, 1992); Puccini, Manon Lescaut (Decca, 1993); Puccini, Tosca (RCA, 1993); Verdi, Don Carlo (EMI Classics, 1994); Pavarotti in Central Park (Decca, 1995); Puccini, La bohème (Opera D'Oro, 1997); Verdi, I Lombardi (Decca, 1997); Verdi, Rigoletto (Deutsche Grammaphon, 1998); Live Recital (Decca, 2001); Puccini, Luisa Miller (Decca re-release, 2001); Verdi, Un ballo in maschera (Decca re-release, 2001); The Pavarotti Edition (Decca, 2001). With other artists: Pavarotti & Friends (Decca, 1993); Pavarotti & Friends 2 (Decca, 1995); Pavarotti & Friends Together for the Children of Bosnia (Decca, 1996); Pavarotti & Friends for the Children of Liberia (Decca, 1998); Pavarotti & Friends for Guatemala and Kosovo (Decca, 1999); Pavarotti & Friends for Cambodia and Tibet (Decca, 2000).
L. Pavarotti with W. Wright, Pavarotti: My Own Story (New York, 1981); J. Kesting, Luciano Pavarotti: The Myth of the Tenor (London, 1992); L. Pavarotti with W. Wright, Pavarotti: My World (New York, 1995).
Born: October 12, 1935
Italian opera singer
Luciano Pavarotti is possibly the most operatic tenor (the highest male singing voice) since Enrico Caruso (1873–1921). He is noted for combining accuracy of pitch and quality of sound production with a natural musicality.
His early years
Luciano Pavarotti was born on the outskirts of Modena in north-central Italy on October 12, 1935. He speaks fondly of his childhood, but the family had little money. Pavarotti, his parents, and his sister were crowded into a two-room apartment. His father was a baker, and his mother worked in a cigar factory. In 1943, because of World War II (1939–45; when France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union fought against Germany, Japan, and Italy) the family had to leave the city. For the following year they rented a single room from a farmer in the neighboring countryside.
Pavarotti's earliest musical influences were his father's recordings featuring the popular tenors of the day. At around the age of nine he began singing with his father in a small local church choir. He took a few voice lessons at the time, but he has said they were not significant. After a normal childhood with an interest in sports, especially soccer, he graduated from the Schola Magistrale and faced the dilemma of choosing a career.
Pavarotti was interested in pursuing a career as a professional soccer player, but his mother convinced him to train as a teacher. He taught in an elementary school for two years, but his interest in music finally won out. Recognizing the risk involved, his father reluctantly gave his consent. He agreed that Pavarotti would be given free room and board until age thirty. After that time, if he had not succeeded as a singer, he would earn a living by any means that he could.
The beginning of his career
Pavarotti began serious study in 1954 at the age of nineteen with Arrigo Pola, a respected teacher and professional tenor in Modena. Pola knew of the family's money problems and offered to teach Pavarotti for free. At about this time Pavarotti met Adua Veroni, whom he married in 1961.
When Pola moved to Japan two and a half years later, Pavarotti became a student of Ettore Campogalliani, who was also teaching the now well-known soprano (the highest female singing voice), Pavarotti's childhood friend Mirella Freni (1935–). During his years of study Pavarotti held part-time jobs in order to help sustain himself—first as an elementary school teacher and then, when he failed at that, as an insurance salesman.
The first six years of study resulted in nothing more significant than a few recitals, all in small towns, and all without pay. When a nodule (a small lump) developed on Pavarotti's vocal chords causing a "disastrous" concert in Ferrara, Italy, he decided to give up singing. After this episode, Pavarotti's voice almost immediately improved. He feels this was due to a psychological release connected with this decision. Whatever the reason, 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."
Becomes a success
Pavarotti won the Achille Peri Competition in 1961, for which the first prize was the role of Rodolfo in a production of Puccini's La Bohème to be given in Reggio Emilia on April 28 of that year. Although his debut was a success, a certain amount of maneuvering was necessary to secure his next few contracts. A well-known agent, Alesandro Ziliani, had been in the audience and, after hearing Pavarotti, offered to represent him. When La Bohème was to be produced in Lucca, Italy, Ziliani told the management that they could only have the services of a well-known singer they wanted if they took Pavarotti in a package deal.
Pavarotti's concert at Covent Garden, London, England, in the fall of 1963 also resulted from an indirect invitation. Giuseppe di Stefano had been scheduled for a series of performances, but the management was aware that he frequently canceled on short notice. They needed someone whose quality matched the rest of the production, yet who would learn the role without any assurance that he would get to sing it. Pavarotti agreed. When di Stefano canceled after one and a half performances, Pavarotti stepped in for the remainder of the series with great success.
Pavarotti's debut in 1965 at La Scala, in Milan, Italy, again as Rodolfo, came at the suggestion of Herbert von Karajan, who had been conducting La Bohème there for two years and had, as Pavarotti said, "run out of tenors." Pavarotti was somewhat resentful that the invitation did not come directly from the La Scala management. Also in 1965 Pavarotti made his American debut in Miami, Florida, as Edgardo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Illness troubled him during his New York City debut at the Metropolitan Opera in November 1968 and compelled him to cancel after the second act of the second performance.
Nineteenth-century Italian opera comprises most of Pavarotti's repertoire (group of songs that one can sing), particularly Puccini, Verdi, and Donizetti, whose music he found the most comfortable to sing. He sings few recitals, because he regards them as more strenuous than opera.
Expands his career
Very few opera singers are convincing actors and Pavarotti is not among them. However, by the mid-1980s he spent nearly as much time on practicing his acting as on his singing. In 1972 he starred in a commercial film, Yes, Giorgio. His solo album of Neapolitan songs, "O Sole Mio," outsold any other record by a classical singer.
Throughout the 1980s Pavarotti strengthened his status as one of the opera world's leading figures. Televised performances of Pavarotti in many of his greatest and favorite roles helped him broaden his appeal. He was able to reach millions of viewers each time one of his opera performances or solo concerts was seen. He also began to show increasing flexibility as a recording artist. He recorded classical operas and Italian folk songs. He also recorded contemporary popular songs with composer and conductor Henry Mancini (1924–1994). He became the world's third-highest top-selling musician, right behind Madonna (1958–) and Elton John (1947–).
By the time Pavarotti proposed and staged the first "Three Tenors" concert in Rome, he was unabashedly (boldly, without disguise) thrilled with his immense popularity. "I want to be famous everywhere," he told Newsweek.
Pavarotti received his share of criticism and rejection as well. He was barred from contracts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1989 because he canceled many performances due to bad health. He was sued by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in 1992 for selling the network a lip-synched (pre-tending to sing to a pre-recorded track) concert. He was booed at La Scala during a performance of Don Carlo. He finally canceled tours and took several months off to rest.
Pavarotti returned to the stage in 1993 with a concert before five hundred thousand people in Central Park, in New York City. Critics accused him of blatant commercialism (overly concerned with making money), but the crowds loved the performances. In 1997 the three tenors—Placido Domingo (1941–), Jose Carreras (1947–) and Pavarotti—toured to mixed reviews, but delighted audiences who seemed unwilling to let Pavarotti even think of retiring.
In 2000 prosecutors in Bologna, Italy, tried Pavarotti on tax fraud charges. They claimed that although Pavarotti lived in Monte Carlo he still had many property holdings in Italy. Pavarotti was accused of owing almost $5 million and could have spent as much as a year and a half in prison. In the end, he was acquitted (had charges dismissed).
In 2002 Pavarotti continued to drop hints that he would be retiring soon, but had not given any specific date. Through his talent and his desire to reach out to audiences everywhere, Pavarotti has been an important figure in bringing the world of opera to a great variety of people.
For More Information
Kesting, Jürgen. Luciano Pavarotti: The Myth of the Tenor. Edited by Susan H. Ray. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996.
Lewis, Marcia. The Private Lives of the Three Tenors. New York: Carol Pub., 1996.
Pavarotti, Adua. Pavarotti: Life with Luciano. New York: Rizzoli, 1992.
Pavarotti, Luciano, with William Wright. Pavarotti: My Own Story. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981.
Probably the most popular tenor since Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti (born 1935) combined accuracy of pitch and quality of sound production with a natural musicality. His favorite roles were Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème, Nemorino in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore, and Riccardo in Verdi's Un Ballo Maschera.
Luciano Pavarotti was born on the outskirts of Modena in north-central Italy on October 12, 1935. Although he spoke fondly of his childhood, the family had little money; its four members were crowded into a two-room apartment. His father was a baker who, according to Pavarotti, had a fine tenor voice but rejected the possibility of a singing career because of nervousness. His mother worked in a cigar factory. World War II forced the family out of the city in 1943. For the following year they rented a single room from a farmer in the neighboring countryside, where young Pavarotti developed an interest in farming.
Pavarotti's earliest musical influences were his father's recordings, most of them featuring the popular tenors of the day—Gigli, Martinelli, Schipa, and Caruso. At around the age of nine he began singing with his father in a small local church choir. Also in his youth he had a few voice lessons with a Professor Dondi and his wife, but he ascribed little significance to them.
After what appears to have been a normal childhood with a typical interest in sports—in Pavarotti's case soccer above all—he graduated from the Schola Magistrale and faced the dilemma of a career choice. He was interested in pursuing a career as a professional soccer player, but his mother convinced him to train as a teacher. He subsequently taught in an elementary school for two years but finally allowed his interest in music to win out. Recognizing the risk involved, his father gave his consent only reluctantly, the agreement being that Pavarotti would be given free room and board until age 30, after which time, if he had not succeeded, he would earn a living by any means that he could.
Pavarotti began serious study in 1954 at the age of 19 with Arrigo Pola, a respected teacher and professional tenor in Modena who, aware of the family's indigence, offered to teach without remuneration. Not until commencing study with Pola was Pavarotti aware that he had perfect pitch. At about this time Pavarotti met Adua Veroni, whom he married in 1961. When Pola moved to Japan two and a half years later, Pavarotti became a student of Ettore Campogalliani, who was also teaching the now well-known soprano, Pavarotti's childhood friend Mirella Freni. During his years of study Pavarotti held part-time jobs in order to help sustain himself—first as an elementary school teacher and then, when he failed at that, as an insurance salesman.
The first six years of study resulted in nothing more tangible than a few recitals, all in small towns and all without pay. When a nodule developed on his vocal chords causing a "disastrous" concert in Ferrara, he decided to give up singing. Pavarotti attributed his immediate improvement to the psychological release connected with this decision. Whatever the reason, 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."
A measure of success occurred when he won the Achille Peri Competition in 1961, for which the first prize was the role of Rodolfo in a production of Puccini's La Bohème to be given in Reggio Emilia on April 28 of that year. Although his debut was a success, a certain amount of maneuvering was necessary to secure his next few contracts. A well-known agent, Alesandro Ziliani, had been in the audience and, after hearing Pavarotti, offered to represent him. When La Bohème was to be produced in Lucca, Ziliani insisted that Pavarotti be included in a package deal that would also provide the services of a well-known singer requested by the management. Later Ziliani recommended him to conductor Tullio Serafin, who engaged him in the role of the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's Rigoletto.
Pavarotti's Covent Garden debut in the fall of 1963 also resulted from something less than a direct invitation. Giuseppe di Stefano had been scheduled for a series of performances as Rodolfo, but the management was aware that he frequently canceled on short notice. They therefore needed someone whose quality matched the rest of the production, yet who would learn the role without any assurance that he would get to sing it. Pavarotti agreed. When di Stefano canceled after one and a half performances, Pavarotti stepped in for the remainder of the series with great success.
His debut at La Scala in 1965, again as Rodolfo, came at the suggestion of Herbert von Karajan, who had been conducting La Bohème there for two years and had, as Pavarotti said, "run out of tenors." He was somewhat resentful that the invitation did not come from La Scala management. Also in 1965 Pavarotti made his American debut in Miami as Edgardo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Illness troubled him during his New York debut at the Metropolitan Opera in November 1968 and compelled him to cancel after the second act of the second performance.
Nineteenth-century Italian opera comprised most of Pavarotti's repertoire, particularly Puccini, Verdi, and Donizetti, who he found the most comfortable to sing. He treated his voice cautiously, reserving heavier roles until later years. Still his rendering of Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca was criticized, both for the light quality of his voice and for his misinterpretation of the role. He sang few song recitals, as he regarded them as more strenuous than opera. Very few opera singers are convincing actors and Pavarotti is not among them. He improved considerably over the years, however, and by the mid-1980s he spent nearly as much time on his acting as on his singing. Although by that time he felt that he had covered the range of roles possible for him, he had not exhausted everything inside that range. Among the roles he hoped to add were Don Jose in Bizet's Carmen and the title role in Massenet's Werther. In 1972 he starred in a commercial film, Yes, Giorgio. His solo album of Neapolitan songs, "O Sole Mio," outsold any other record by a classical singer.
Throughout the 1980s Pavarotti strengthened his status as one of the opera world's leading figures. Televised performances of Pavarotti in many of his greatest and favorite roles not only helped him maintain his status, but to broaden his appeal. He was able to reach millions of viewers each time one of his opera performances and solo concerts was seen. He also began to show increasing flexibility as a recording artist. He recorded classical operas, songs by Henry Mancini and Italian folk songs, thus becoming the world's third highest top selling musician, right behind Madonna and Elton John. By the time he proposed and staged the first "Three Tenors" concert at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Pavarotti was unabashedly thrilled with his immense popularity. "I want to be famous everywhere" he told Newsweek and he continually showed his appreciation to the fans that made him. "I tell you, the time spent signing autographs is never enough" he continued in the same interview.
He received his share of criticism and rejection as well. He was barred from contracts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago 1989 because he canceled performances excessively due to bad health. He was sued by the BBC in 1992 for selling the network a lip-synched concert. He was booed at La Scala during a performance of Don Carlo. He finally canceled tours and took several months off to rest.
Pavarotti returned to the stage with concerts before 500,000 people in Central Park. Critics accused him of blatant commercialism, but the crowds loved the performances. He learned a new role, Andrea Chenier, for a 1996 Metropolitan Opera broadcast. Pavarotti was praised for both his diligence, his survival, and the fact that he undertook a new role at the age of 61. In 1997 the three tenors—Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Pavarotti—toured to mixed reviews but delighted audiences who seemed unwilling to let Pavarotti even think of retiring.
Pavarotti's popularity was such that he was in the media constantly. Unfortunately, the information ranged widely in its credibility. Recommended are articles by R. Jacobson appearing in Opera News (March 14, 1981 and February 14, 1979). A short and fairly objective profile by Giorgio Gualerzi appeared in the British publication Opera (February 1981). An autobiography, Pavarotti: My Own Story, with William Wright (1981) is comprised of articles by Pavarotti and by those around him, including his wife, his accompanist, and his manager. While the book contains information, and even wit and charm, one must do a lot of sifting to find it. The discography and list of first performances appearing as appendices are helpful. Critic Alan Blythe regards his Rodolfo in La Bohème conducted by Karajan (London) and his Arturo in Bellini's I Puritani conducted by Bonynge (London) to be among his finest recordings. □
Pavarotti, Luciano , greatly renowned Italian tenor; b. Modena, Oct. 12, 1935. His father, a baker by trade, sang in the local church choir; Luciano learned to read music and began singing with the boy altos; later joined his father in the choir, and also sang in the chorus of the local Teatro Comunale and the amateur Chorale Gioacchino Rossini. To prepare himself for a career as a schoolteacher, he attended the local Scuola Magistrale; then taught in an elementary school, augmenting his income by selling insurance. In the meantime, he began vocal studies with Arrigo Polo in Modena (1955), then went to Mantua, where he continued his training with Ettore Campogalliani (1960). He made his operatic debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia on April 29,1961. He obtained his first major engagement when he appeared as the Duke of Mantua at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo (March 15, 1962). His first important appearance outside his homeland was as Edgardo with the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam (Jan. 18, 1963). On Feb. 24, 1963, he made his Vienna State Opera debut as Rodolfo, a role he also sang for his first appearance at London’s Covent Garden (Sept. 21, 1963). On Feb. 15, 1965, he made his U.S. debut as Edgardo opposite Joan Sutherland’s Lucia with the Greater Miami Opera. After his first appearance at Milan’s La Scala as Alfredo (April 28, 1965), he made a summer tour of Australia with the Sutherland Williamson International Grand Opera Co., a venture featuring the celebrated diva. He subsequently scored his first triumph on the operatic stage when he essayed the role of Tonio in La Fille du régiment at Covent Garden (June 1, 1966); with insouciant aplomb, he tossed off the aria Pour mon âme, replete with 9 successive high C’s, winning an ovation. He was dubbed the “King of the High C’s,” and a brilliant international career beckoned. He made his debut at the San Francisco Opera as Rodolfo (Nov. 11, 1967), a role he chose for his first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. (Nov. 23, 1968). In subsequent seasons, he became a mainstay at both houses, and also appeared regularly with other opera houses on both sides of the Atlantic. He also made frequent appearances in solo recitals and concerts with orchs. In 1977 he starred as Rodolfo in the first “Live from the Met” telecast by PBS. In 1978 he made an acclaimed solo recital debut at the Metropolitan Opera, which was also telecast by PBS. In 1980 he founded the Opera Co. of Philadelphia/Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. On Oct. 22, 1983, he was one of the featured artists at the Metropolitan Opera Centennial Gala. In 1984 he gave a concert before 20,000 admirers at N.Y.’s Madison Square Garden, which was also seen by millions on PBS. He celebrated the 25thanniversary of his operatic debut by singing his beloved Rodolfo at the Teatro Comunale in Modena on April 29, 1986. In 1988 he sang Nemorino at the Berlin Deutsche Oper, eliciting thunderous applause and no less than 15 curtain calls. On Jan. 9, 1989, he appeared in concert with the N.Y.C. Opera orch. in a special program at Avery Fischer Hall at N.Y.’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which was televised live by PBS. In 1990 he appeared at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. On July 7,1990, he made an unprecedented concert appearance with fellow tenors José Carreras and Plácido Domingo in Rome in an extravaganza telecast to the world. In subsequent years, the “three tenors” appeared in concert in various cities around the globe. Pavarotti celebrated the 30th anniversary of his career with a special concert at London’s Hyde Park on July 30,1991, which event was telecast throughout Europe and overseas. On July 26, 1993, he gave a concert before some 500,000 people in N.Y.’s Central Park, which was seen by countless others via a live telecast by PBS. He celebrated the 25th anniversary of his debut at the Metropolitan Opera on Sept. 27,1993, singing Otello in the first act of Verdi’s opera in a live radio broadcast heard around the world. On July 6, 1994, he again appeared with Carreras and Domingo in concert in Los Angeles, an event telecast live around the globe. On Nov. 22, 1998, he celebrated the 30th anniversary of his Metropolitan Opera debut in a gala performance with the company.
The most idolized tenor since Caruso, Pavarotti made such roles as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Ric-cardo in Un ballo in maschera, Fernando in La Favorite, Manrico in II Trovatore, Cavaradossi in Tosca, and Ra-dames in Aida, as well as the ubiquitous Rodolfo, virtually his own. Indeed, through recordings and television appearances, he won an adoring global following, which he retained into his sixth decade in spite of health problems and the breakup of his marriage in 1995 following the revelation of his affair with a young assistant. His autobiography was publ. as Pavarotti: My Own Story (with W. Wright; Garden City, N.Y., 1981).
M. Mayer, Grandissimo P. (Garden City, N.Y., 1986; with career chronology and discography by G. Fitzgerald); A. Pavarotti and W. Dallas, P.: Vivere con L. (Trento, 1992; Eng. tr., 1992, as P.: Life with L); C. Bonvicini, The Tenor’s Son: My Days with P. (N.Y., 1993); L. Magiera, P.: Mythos, Methode und Magie (Zürich, 1993); E. Ruggieri, P. (Paris, 1993); M. Lewis, The Private Lives of the Three Tenors: Behind the Scenes With Placido Domingo, L. P., and José Carreras (N.Y., 1996).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire
Luciano Pavarotti (lōōchä´nō pävōrä´tēē), 1935–2007, Italian tenor. He made his debut in Italy in 1961, in London in 1963, and in the United States in 1965. He appeared regularly at New York's Metropolitan Opera from 1968 to 2004. A popular favorite, Pavarotti was noted for the rich and ringing clarity of his lyric tenor voice as well as for his immense personal charm. His brilliance and style were particularly notable in his performances of works by Bellini, Donizetti, Puccini, and Verdi. During his later career he frequently sang for huge audiences in stadiums and other large venues, and also appeared on television. In the 1980s he reached an enormous public through the Three Tenor concerts and recordings, in which he was joined by Placido Domingo and José Carreras. In the 1990s he participated in numerous charity concerts, often sharing the bill with rock stars.
See his autobiographies (with W. Wright, 1981 and 1995).