I've never been a great fan to this guy but there were times when I was entertained by his songs...
Pavarotti's charismatic persona and ebullient showmanship — but most of all his creamy and powerful voice — made him the most beloved and celebrated tenor since the great Caruso and one of the few opera singers to win crossover fame as a popular superstar. "Luciano's voice was so extraordinarily beautiful and his delivery so natural and direct that his singing spoke right to the hearts of listeners whether they knew anything about opera or not," Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine said in a statement. Fellow singer Jose Carreras called Pavarotti "one of the greatest tenors ever, one of the most important singers in the history of opera."
For serious fans, the unforced beauty and thrilling urgency of Pavarotti's voice made him the ideal interpreter of the Italian lyric repertory, especially in the 1960s and '70s when he first achieved stardom. For millions more, his thrilling performances of standards like "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" came to represent what opera is all about.
"Nessun Dorma" turned out to be Pavarotti's last aria, sung at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin in February 2006. His last full-scale concert was at Taipei in December 2005, and his farewell to opera was in Puccini's "Tosca" at New York's Met in March 2004.
Instantly recognizable from his charcoal black beard and tuxedo-busting girth, Pavarotti radiated an intangible magic that helped him win hearts in a way Placido Domingo and Carreras — his partners in the "Three Tenors" concerts — never quite could.
In his heyday, he was known as the "King of the High C's" for the ease with which he tossed off difficult top notes. In fact it was his ability to hit nine glorious high C's in quick succession that turned him into an international superstar singing Tonio's aria "Ah! Mes amis," in Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment" at the Met in 1972. From Beijing to Buenos Aires, people immediately recognized his incandescent smile and lumbering bulk, clutching a white handkerchief as he sang arias and Neapolitan folk songs, pop numbers and Christmas carols for hundreds of thousands in outdoor concerts.
The son of a baker who was an amateur singer, Pavarotti was born Oct. 12, 1935. He had a meager upbringing, though he said it was rich with happiness. "Our family had very little, but I couldn't imagine one could have any more," Pavarotti said. As a boy, Pavarotti showed more interest in soccer than his studies, but he also was fond of listening to his father's recordings of tenor greats like Beniamino Gigli, Tito Schipa, Jussi Bjoerling and Giuseppe Di Stefano, his favorite. In his teens, Pavarotti joined his father, also a tenor, in the church choir and local opera chorus. He was influenced by the American movie actor-singer Mario Lanza.
Singing was still nothing more than a passion while Pavarotti trained to become a teacher and began working in a school. But at 20, he traveled with his chorus to an international music competition in Wales. The Modena group won first place, and Pavarotti began to dedicate himself to singing. With the encouragement of his then-fiancee, Adua, he started lessons, selling insurance to pay for them. He studied with Arrigo Pola and later Ettore Campogalliani.
In 1961, Pavarotti won a local competition and with it a debut as Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme." He followed with a series of successes in small opera houses throughout Europe before his 1963 debut at Covent Garden in London, where he stood in for Di Stefano as Rodolfo.
Having impressed conductor Richard Bonynge, Pavarotti was given a role opposite Bonynge's wife, Sutherland, in a Miami production of "Lucia di Lammermoor." They subsequently signed him for a 14-week tour of Australia. It was the recognition Pavarotti needed to launch his career. He also credited Sutherland with teaching him how to breathe correctly. Pavarotti's major debuts followed — at La Scala in Milan in 1965, San Francisco in 1967 and New York's Metropolitan Opera House in 1968.
Pavarotti, who had been trained as a lyric tenor, began taking on heavier dramatic roles, such as Manrico in Verdi's "Trovatore" and the title role in "Otello." In the mid-1970s, Pavarotti became a true media star. He appeared in television commercials and began singing in hugely lucrative mega-concerts outdoors and in stadiums around the world. Soon came joint concerts with pop stars. A concert in New York's Central Park in 1993 drew 500,000 fans. Pavarotti's recording of "Volare" went platinum in 1988.
In 1990, he appeared with Domingo and Carreras in a concert at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome for the end of soccer's World Cup. The concert was a huge success, and the record known as "The Three Tenors" was a best-seller and was nominated for two Grammy awards. The video sold over 750,000 copies. The three-tenor extravaganza became a mini-industry and widely imitated. With a follow-up album recorded at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 1994, the three have outsold every other performer of classical music. A 1996 tour earned each tenor an estimated $10 million.
He will be remembered in Italy as "the last great Italian voice able to move the world," said Bruno Cagli, president of the Santa Cecilia National Academy in Rome.
Translation to Nessun dorma... "No one sleeps! No one sleeps! You too, O Princess! in your chaste room are watching the stars which tremble with love and hope! But my secret lies hidden within me, no one shall discover my name! Oh no, I will reveal it only on your lips, when daylight shines forth and my kiss shall break the silence which makes you mine. Depart, oh nght! Fade away, you stars! At dawn I shall win!