Maestro Luciano Pavoratti and the Voice Heard Round the World


The incomparable Luciano Pavoratti passed away 10 years ago this month.

Luciano Pavarotti, the bearded opera legend, died early Thursday after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer. With his noted girth and cheeky duets with pop singers, the 71-year-old tenor was that rare maestro of classical music who was as instantly recognizable around the world as superstars from MTV and the movies.

Pavarotti died at 5 a.m. local time at home in the northern city of Modena where he was born. As word of his death spread, the singer was remembered both by experts and ordinary folks for reinvigorating and reinventing (some critics would say, ruining) the classical art form of opera, or la musica lirica, that was born here in the 17th century. “Like Ferrari, he was the symbol of Italy in the world,” said noted music critic Mario Luzzato Fegiz. “He was admired for his talent, for his capacity to be a tenor without pretensions, to be close to the people.”

Pavarotti burst onto the scene in the mid 1960s, getting his big break on an American stage in one of those typical show business tales of being in the right place at the right time when in 1965 he stepped in alongside Joan Sutherland on the stage of the Miami-Dade County Auditorium when the scheduled tenor fell ill. Just three months later, he debuted at Milan’s La Scala in La Bohème — and never looked back. His fame multiplied with major televised performances in the 1970s and 1980s, and eventually his teaming up with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras to form the Three Tenors.

Adored for his knack for the spectacle, Pavarotti was ultimately admired most for the sheer splendor of his voice. Said Domingo in a statement from Los Angeles after his singing partner’s death: “I always admired the God-given glory of his voice — that unmistakable special timbre from the bottom up to the very top of the tenor range.” Back in Italy, Minister of Culture Francesco Rutelli concluded that, “Luciano Pavarotti was a giant of the 20th century. His unrivaled and imposing vocal power, like his stage presence, made him one of the top protagonists of the Italian opera tradition.” Continue reading at TIME.com. 

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