Thursday, September 6, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)

Luciano Pavarotti died today at his home in Modena, Italy, at the age of 71. He had battled pancreatic cancer for the past year. Pavarotti exuded great force as an artist, presence and personality, and thankfully, he had the voice to back it up. He grew up as the son of a baker and did not turn towards the idea of a career in singing until his early twenties. After a few years of voice lessons, his career as an opera star cannot be described in any other terms than meteoric. His was a distinctive voice full of passion and life. There is no mistaking his characteristic sound.

Perhaps that is what drew me in to a love of opera in the first place. My earliest memory of hearing opera was from the eight track tapes my grandfather played and Pavarotti figured prominently in that collection. My earliest image of opera was Pavarotti dressed as a clown in the role of Pagliacci. The fact that my grandfather also sang Italian arias explains the close association my young mind had between my grandfather and Pavarotti—that was at times almost synonymous. I thank my grandfather for opening the world of opera to me.

The first two opera recordings I bought were Pavarotti in Puccini’s Turandot and La Boheme—still two of my favorites. My wife and I were thrilled when we got to hear him in concert a few years ago, and one of my prized possessions is a signed photograph of him.

Despite some of the controversies that surrounded his later career, his effortless voice and presence embodied the great things about the art of singing. Such beauty and passion only come around once every few generations. He will be missed.

Qui.. amor... sempre con te!
Le mani... al caldo... e... dormire.

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