Luciano Pavarotti RIP

It is everyone’s loss–simply an incredible voice.

Update: NPR has links to 7 recordings.

Another update: Anthony Thomasini has an appraisal in the New York Times which includes this:

But no one ever mistook the voice of Luciano Pavarotti. There was the warm, enveloping sound: a classic Italian tenor voice, yes, but touched with a bit of husky baritonal darkness, which made Mr. Pavarotti’s flights into his gleaming upper range seem all the more miraculous.

And it wasn’t just the sound that was so recognizable. In Mr. Pavarotti’s artistry, language and voice were one. He had an idiomatic way of binding the rounded vowels and sputtering consonants of his native Italian to the tones and colorings of his voice. This practice is central to the Italian vocal heritage, and Mr. Pavarotti was one of its exemplars.

For intelligence, discipline, breadth of repertory, musicianship, interpretive depth and virile vocalism, Mr. Pavarotti was outclassed by his Three Tenors sidekick and chief rival, Plácido Domingo. But for sheer Italianate tenorial beauty, Mr. Pavarotti was hard to top. That was certainly the position of his longtime manager, Herbert Breslin, who combined his own promotional savvy with his chief client’s vocal greatness to produce the moneymaking phenomenon that was Mr. Pavarotti’s career. Call it Pavarotti Inc.

“Nobody in the tenor world has Luciano’s sound, that Italian sound,” Mr. Breslin told Manuela Hoelterhoff for her wonderful 1998 book “Cinderella & Company.” “Domingo,” he added, “would have to go pray in 17 churches in Guadalajara to find that sound.”

And remember: His father was a baker and his mother worked in a cigar factory. As a young man, Pavarotti sold insurance to pay for voice lessons. May that be a word for all in leadership who are tempted to judge others potential too hastily and not see as God sees. When Fred Astaire made his first screen test at MGM it is alleged the following memo was written: can’t act, slightly bald, can dance a little–KSH.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

12 comments on “Luciano Pavarotti RIP

  1. Sherri says:

    Oh! I am so sorry to read this first thing! I had read yesterday that he was much worse. What a loss to the world.

  2. KevinBabb says:

    I only heard Pavarotti live once, in the early 80s, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois. I don’t expect ever to hear that type of voice again in person on this side of the veil.

  3. Judith L says:

    My fave forever. May he rest in peace.

  4. midwestnorwegian says:

    He performed at the U of Tennessee-Knoxville when I was in grad school there. He had 25,000 of us “eating out of his hand” in a basketball arena! Many of us were horrified when we arrived at the arena to find them selling concessions. The first thing Luciano did when he came out to perform was take a huge breath and say “Ah…I love the smell of popcorn”. The event planners presented him with a giant plastic trash bag full of popped popcorn at the end of the concert, and the newspaper published the next day claimed he took the popcorn on the plane with him! As a musician and as a human being, I am going to miss this man. He inspired me to realize one of my childhood dreams – sing on stage in opera. My heart is selfishly heavy this morning. Brava Luciano!

  5. evan miller says:

    On my way back from lunch, I was listening to a retrospective/tribute to him on NPR’s “Performance Today.” When they played a recording of him singing the well know piece from “Madame Butterfly,” I could picture him clearly and was quite surprised to feel a constricting of the chest, catch in my throat, and tears well up. Extraordinary. He was a real treasure.

  6. Reason and Revelation says:

    The best that ever lived. #4, I believe that would be “bravO…”

    I love how he had that slightly unschooled, absolutely natural gift. You just can’t teach that.

  7. Reactionary says:

    May God bless and keep the soul of His servant, Luciano.

  8. midwestnorwegian says:

    #6 – absolutely right. Typing too fast this morning.
    Bravo for men
    Brava for women
    Brava (or Bravo) for R&R;- whichever your gender!

  9. Paula Loughlin says:

    May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed by the mercy of God, rest in peace.

  10. BCP28 says:

    As a conductor, I am refraining from sharing all of the stories I have heard over the years! The man’s appetites were legendary…

    What a voice though. Simply amazing to listen to in its radiance and his natural musicianship. I never liked and respected him the way I do Domingo, but my word, what a loss.


  11. libraryjim says:

    I’ve never cared much for opera or opratic-style music, but his was definately a “talent on loan from God”. He did a lot to break down the walls between operatic pieces and the ‘common folk’. He will be missed down here.

  12. Sidney says:

    So, he left his wife of 3 decades to live with a twentysomething hottie. How lovely.

    As usual, powerful men can get away with anything.