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, PlÃ¡cido 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.