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Jale
September 6th, 2007, 17:18
Pavarotti, Most Famous Opera Tenor Since Caruso, Dies

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Luciano Pavarotti, the Italian tenor whose clarion lyric voice and performances from concert houses to outdoor stadiums made him a pop icon and the most famous opera singer since Enrico Caruso, has died. He was 71.

Pavarotti, who underwent surgery in New York for pancreatic cancer in 2006, died today at his home in Modena, Italy, according to his agent, Terri Robson. He was hospitalized in Modena in August for a high fever.

``In fitting with the approach that characterized his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness,'' Robson said in a statement.

The bearded Pavarotti was the king of tenors from the late 1960s through the 1990s. He popularized opera more than any other singer through recordings that made him the best-selling classical artist ever and concerts in parks and stadiums around the world that were televised to millions.

With his huge frame, at times 300 pounds or more, and trademark white handkerchief that he used to wipe his brow, the charismatic Pavarotti became what his former manager Herbert Breslin called ``a rock star for people over 30.''

`God-Given Glory'

Pavarotti offered sunny, instinctive musicality rather than the scrupulous musicianship of his career-long rival Placido Domingo.

``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,'' Domingo said in a statement from Los Angeles.

Pavarotti took opera outside the concert hall: performances before 150,000 people, including the Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana, in London's Hyde Park in 1991; 500,000 on the Great Lawn of New York's Central Park in 1993; and 300,000 in 1994 at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Pavarotti shared the stage with rock and pop singers, including Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Bono of U2, to raise money for charities.

``Some can sing opera; Luciano Pavarotti was an opera,'' Bono said in a statement on the band's Web site. ``His life and talent was large, but his sense of service to the weak and vulnerable was larger.''

President George W. Bush issued a statement from Sydney, where he was traveling, praising the tenor's ``perfect pitch and charismatic interpretations.''

``Pavarotti was also a great humanitarian, using his magnificent talent to rally tremendous levels of support for victims of tragedies around the globe,'' Bush said.

'Three Tenors'

Pavarotti toured the world alongside Domingo and Carreras for the ``Three Tenors'' concerts, which began with the 1990 World Cup and were repeated every four years through 2002. The CD from the first concert broke all records for classical music, selling more than 11 million copies.

His career wasn't without problems.

As stardom ballooned, so sometimes did the singer's weight, causing sciatica to affect his mobility and stamina. He frequently backed out of performances because of colds, laryngitis and other health issues, including knee, neck and back surgery. A 1989 dispute over cancellations ended his association with Lyric Opera of Chicago.

His mainstreaming of opera to venues outside the traditional concert hall and turning himself into a pop star led critics to accuse him of blatant commercialism.

Tax Battle

In 2000, he ended a four-year tax battle with Italian authorities who charged him with filing false returns from 1989 to 1995 for claiming that his primary residence was in Monte Carlo. One year earlier, he paid an undisclosed sum to settle a tax-evasion charge in Germany against him, Domingo and Carreras.

He left his wife of 34 years, Adua Veroni, for his former secretary, Nicoletta Mantovani, 35 years his junior; they had a daughter, Alice, before they married in 2003. He had three daughters from his first marriage.

Pavarotti was born on Oct. 12, 1935, in Modena, northern Italy. His mother worked in a cigar factory. His father was a baker and amateur singer and chorister who sometimes sang small parts on his son's recordings. As a youngster, soccer was more attractive to Pavarotti, but he joined his father's chorus and was recognized for his vocal potential.

He was a slim, handsome 25-year-old when in April 1961 he made his operatic debut in the city of Reggio Emilia as Puccini's romantic poet Rodolfo in ``La Boheme.'' It served as a ``good luck'' debut role throughout his career.

`Consigned to History'

The slimness didn't last, though Pavarotti's brilliant high C, golden sound and clear Italianate line held him in good stead for Rodolfo debuts at London's Covent Garden, Milan's La Scala and New York's Metropolitan Opera House, where Caruso, also a tenor, performed through 1920.

``With the passing of Luciano Pavarotti, La Scala and the world of opera lose one of the finest and most moving voices of all time,'' said Stephane Lissner, general manager of La Scala, in an e-mail statement. ``With him, a splendid era of opera is consigned to history.''

Next year, La Scala and Teatro di Modena in the tenor's hometown will launch the ``Concorso Luciano Pavarotti,'' an international singing competition whose winner will be given the chance to perform at La Scala. The award was announced Sept. 4, just two days before his death.

`Unique Ability'

Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House in London, said Pavarotti had ``a unique ability to touch people with the emotional and brilliant quality of his voice.''

``We count ourselves lucky at the Royal Opera House to have had wonderful farewell performances from him in January 2002 when he sang in 'Tosca,' despite the death of his own mother in the final stages of rehearsals,'' Pappano said in an e-mail statement.

Pavarotti's recording career began in 1964 with Australian soprano Joan Sutherland and her conductor husband Richard Bonynge in Bellini's ``Beatrice di Tenda.''

After the three toured Australia triumphantly in 1965, the artistic bonds took hold, with subsequent recordings of Bellini's ``I Puritani,'' Donizetti's ``Fille du Regiment,'' ``L'Elisir d'Amore,'' and ``Lucia di Lammermoor,'' and Verdi's ``Rigoletto.''

Pavarotti first performed in the U.S. in Miami at the Miami- Dade County Auditorium in February 1965 with Sutherland. He made his debut at the Met as a relative unknown on Nov. 23, 1968, opposite soprano Mirella Freni, a childhood friend from Modena.

He achieved stardom in the U.S. when in a 1972 performance at the Met in a production of ``Fille'' opposite Sutherland, he hit nine successive and impeccable high C's.

His recording company, London/Decca, followed that triumph with many solo recitals and complete operas. The Met staged a succession of 11 new productions around him, including ``Puritani'' with Sutherland (1976), ``Un ballo in maschera'' (1980) and ``Idomeneo'' (a rare Mozartean venture) in 1982.

Later Years

Pavarotti starred in the first ``Live from the Met'' telecast in March 1977 as Rodolfo in ``Boheme'' with Renata Scotto. His Met performances included 60 of ``Tosca'' and 49 of ``Elisir.''

For more than two decades after his triumphant ``Fille'' performance at the Met, Pavarotti appeared in almost every major European and American concert house. He sang in Beijing before an audience of 10,000 at the Great Hall of the People in 1986.

In 1982, Pavarotti appeared in the Hollywood extravaganza ``Yes, Giorgio,'' which fared poorly with critics and audiences.

As with Caruso, Pavarotti's sound darkened in later years, prompting him to take on heavier repertory, sometimes successfully, sometimes questionably. The stadium and televised outdoor concerts took precedence in his schedule.

With age and heavy exposure, some tonal wear and tear became evident by the mid 1990s. Pavarotti's last performance at the Met was in ``Tosca'' on March 13, 2004, where he received an 11- minute standing ovation. He began an extensive farewell tour in 2005 after announcing his retirement, but it was frequently interrupted by illness and injuries.

In a 2006 interview with Italy's La Stampa newspaper, Pavarotti said, ``I have every intention of returning to singing. I'll have to discuss it with the doctors, but I think I'll start again next year.''

montpics
September 10th, 2007, 09:38
RIP to the great artist of this century. :(