Before becoming an opera singer, Pavarotti dreamed of being a goalkeeper.
By: Legacy Staff
8 years ago
The great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti was born Oct. 12, 1935. In honor of his 75th birthday, here are 10 memorable moments from the his operatic career.
1. In 1955, a 19-year-old Pavarotti joined male choral group Corale Rossini and traveled to Wales to compete in the International Eisteddfod festival. Pavarotti and the Corale Rossini won first prize, and he cited the experience as the most important in his life, as it convinced him to pursue a career in music. He would return to the festival 40 years later as a performer.
2. On April 29, 1961, Pavarotti made his operatic debut as Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme." Two years later, he would make his first Royal Opera House appearance in London playing the same role.
3. Though he had been steadily gaining acclaim in Europe, Pavarotti remained mostly unknown in the United States until 1972. His big breakthrough in the U.S. came with his performance of the comic opera La fille du régiment at New York's Metropolitan Opera. He drove the crowd into a frenzy performing nine consecutive high Cs in the aria and earning 17 curtain calls. Stateside audiences were quickly learning why the English called him the "King of the High Cs."
4. Though Pavarotti routinely performed before tens of thousands, for longtime Pavarotti pianist and conductor Leone Magiera, one of the tenor's best performances took place in a deserted opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. The Teatro Amazonas opera house was built by a rubber baron in the late 19th century (Werner Herzog's film "Fitzcarraldo" is based on its creation) and Pavarotti insisted on singing there as he was convinced Enrico Caruso had done so. Finding the theatre in disuse, Pavarotti still sang, running through a couple Tosca arias to an audience of about five people.
5. Pavarotti began performing at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1973. However, he had a habit of cancelling his performances there, backing out of 26 of 41 scheduled performances. This tendency led company director Ardis Krainik in 1989 to publicly ban Pavarotti from performing at the Lyric.
6. For many, Pavarotti's finest opera performance was in 1977's Metropolitan Opera production of "La Boheme."
7. As his fame and fortunes grew, Pavarotti used his celebrity to raise money for various causes including to help orphans from wars in Bosnia, Liberia, and Iraq. He performed not just with classical musicians but pop stars like Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Eric Clapton, Bono, and Sheryl Crow. In 1999 he performed in Beirut to celebrate the end of their civil war. The concert was attended by 20,000 people, including those who had traveled from as far away as Saudi Arabia to see him.
8. Before becoming a singer, Pavarotti had dreamed of becoming a goalkeeper. It was fitting then, that the 1990 World Cup provided one of his most memorable moments. His version of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" had been used by the BBC for their coverage of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, and on the eve of the final, Pavarotti was joined by Plácido Domingo, and José Carreras in a concert at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, where they delivered a fantastic version of "O Sole Mio." "The Three Tenors in Concert" became the best selling classical album of all time, and the group became a staple of the World Cup, performing at the USA '94, France '98 and Japan-Korea 2002 competitions.
9. His farewell opera appearance was at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on March 13, 2004. It was his 383rd performance in the venue.
10. Pavarotti performed his final concert at the opening of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. A wheelchair bound Pavarotti was already weakened by his battle with pancreatic cancer and feared his voice might fail him. Instead of performing live, he lip-synched his performance, using both audio and video that had been pre-recorded. Only after his death Sept. 6, 2007 did the producers of the concert admit that the audience had been duped.