Luciano Pavarotti

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About Luciano Pavarotti

Arguably nothing signifies opera more than an Italian tenor in full flight, and Luciano Pavarotti fabulously embodied that ideal—while selling more than 100 million albums. Pavarotti was born in Modena, Italy, in 1935. His father was a baker and amateur tenor with an impressive record collection. Luciano studied voice privately beginning at age 19, and taught for two years before committing himself to singing. In 1961 he won an international competition and made his debut as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème (1896). His clear, expressive style was fully formed by the time he began an important onstage relationship with bel canto revivalists Joan Sutherland and the soprano’s husband, conductor Richard Bonynge. Pavarotti’s performance of Donizetti’s “Ah! mes amis” aria, from their 1967 La fille du régiment recording, was a showstopper that established him as “King of the High Cs”. In 1972 he recorded “Nessun dorma”, the song that would become his signature, for Zubin Mehta’s exemplary Turandot (prem. 1926). While comedic bel canto roles in works by Puccini, Verdi and Donizetti were his forte (he also recorded countless recital standards and seasonal favourites), Pavarotti demonstrated more serious musicality in works like the “Ingemisco” movement of Verdi’s Requiem (1874). In 1990, he expanded his influence into the pop realm as a member of operatic supergroup The Three Tenors alongside Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. His health diminished later in the decade, and he performed in his last staged opera in 2004 before his death in 2007.

Modena, Italy
12 October 1935
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