Last Saturday, Walter and I were in Pavarotti’s hometown of Modena, Italy. I made a pilgrimage to his statue outside the opera house, now named Teatro Comunale Luciano Pavarotti in his honor.
We drove out to the countryside to tour the light-saturated home where the great operatic tenor lived and died. The building is now Luciano Pavarotti Casa e Museo (Luciano Pavarotti house and museum). It’s a treasure trove of audio, video, photographs, celebrity fan letters to the maestro, theatrical costumes and more. The walls are adorned with Paravrotti’s colorful paintings and a glass box showcases some of his art supplies.
Three days later, back at home base in Charlotte, NC, we attended a sneak preview of Ron Howard’s documentary film Pavarotti. (Tip of the hat to opera authority Fred Plotkin for Facebook posting about the film on which he consulted.) The movie opens in selected cities on June 7, 2019 and in wide release throughout the summer.
I’ve adored Pavarotti’s voice and magnetism since I “discovered” him, around the time I became infatuated with all things Italian.
Then, the unimaginable happened in the mid ‘80s when, as a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, I met and interviewed Pavarotti. His presence was electrifying as you’ll see when you watch the Pavarotti film. It remains a highlight of my life. I wrote an essay in Cooking Up an Italian Life titled “My Dinner with Luciano.”
Pavarotti the Man and the Legend
Dubbed “King of the high Cs” during his prime opera years, Pavarotti went on to become an immensely successful pop artist, often in collaboration with U2, Sting, Celine Dion, and many other rock and pop musicians. Opera purists criticized Pavarotti’s commercial ventures but he didn’t care. He felt he was broadening opera’s appeal. Plus, often his concerts raised millions to help children and refugees.
The film explores the public Pavarotti as well as the private. Sometimes, his personal life mimicked an operatic melodrama: infidelity, estrangement, pain, defeat, joy and triumph. It was a LIFE.
Click here to read Anthony Tommasini’s appraisal of Pavarotti’s career. The essay appeared in the New York Times on September 6, 2007, the day Pavarotti passed away.
Click here to listen to Pavarotti in concert singing E Lucevan le Stelle (And the Stars Were Shining) from Puccini’s Tosca. The hero Cavaradossi sings of his passion for Tosca moments before his execution.
What is your Pavarotti story?