Luciano Pavarotti recently celebrated his fortieth anniversary as an opera singer. A household name for most of this extraordinary career, the great tenor’s impact on the world of music has been enormous. Broadening the horizons of classical music and bringing untold numbers of new fans to his art, his thrilling voice and unique personality have touched countless people throughout the world.
An exclusive Decca artist for a record-breaking 40 years, Luciano Pavarotti is the most popular classical artist in the history of the recording industry.
Born in Modena, Italy, Luciano Pavarotti gained his first musical experiences with his city’s chorus, of which his father, Fernando, was also a member. The teenage Pavarotti and his father travelled with the chorus to Wales, and went on to win first prize in the Llangollen international singing competition. This experience fired the young Pavarotti’s musical ambitions for life as a tenor. He had originally trained to become a teacher, but, after first studying with Arrigo Pola and then with Ettore Campogalliani, he won the prestigious Concorso Internazionale in 1961 and made his operatic debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Teatro Reggio Emilia that year. Pavarotti made an immediate impression on the Italian operatic scene and was engaged to sing in theatres throughout his country. In a very short time, he was in international demand, making his international operatic debut in La Traviata in Belgrade.
Pavarotti’s colleagues have included the most glorious stars of opera: Montserrat Caballé, Piero Cappuccilli, José Carreras, Fiorenza Cossotto, Plácido Domingo, Mirella Freni, Kiri Te Kanawa, Aprile Millo, Robert Merrill, Sherrill Milnes, Leontyne Price, Leonie Rysanek, Renata Scotto, Dame Joan Sutherland, Carol Vaness and Shirley Verrett, to name but a few. Conductors with whom Pavarotti has collaborated include Tullio Serafin (who conducted Pavarotti’s first performances of Rigoletto in Palermo in 1962), Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Richard Bonynge, Riccardo Chailly, Carlos Kleiber, Lamberto Gardelli, Carlo Maria Giulini, Herbert von Karajan, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Leone Maggiera, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Eugene Ormandy, Seiji Ozawa and Sir Georg Solti. During his career, Luciano Pavarotti has appeared on the world's most important opera stages, amongst them the Metropolitan Opera (New York), Bastille (Paris), Deutsche Oper (Berlin) La Fenice (Venice), Garnier (Paris), Glyndebourne, Royal Opera House Covent Garden (London), San Carlo (Naples), La Scala (Milan), Staatsoper (Vienna), Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires) and the opera houses of Barcelona, Chicago, Florence, Hamburg, Madrid, Miami, Monte Carlo, Philadelphia, Rome, Salzburg, San Francisco, Sydney, Turin and Zurich.
Luciano Pavarotti has made appearances at concert halls, arenas and stadiums throughout the American continents, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. In addition to major international concert halls, venues have included New York’s Madison Square Garden, London’s Wembley Stadium, the Olympic Stadiums of Berlin and Barcelona, the Hollywood Bowl and the Roman Amphitheatre in Orange, France. In London’s Hyde Park, torrential rain failed to dampen the spirits of a delighted audience of over 150,000 people, including the Prince & Princess of Wales and the Prime Minister. In June 1993, Pavarotti performed to a crowd of over half a million in New York’s Central Park, while millions more watched the televised concert throughout the world. Pavarotti’s concert at the Eiffel Tour in Paris drew crowds of over 300,000. Along with his friends, José Carreras and Plácido Domingo, he has appeared in Three Tenors concerts around the world.
Pavarotti will be forever identified with key tenor roles of such operas as Aida, Ballo in Maschera, La Bohème, L’Elisir d’Amore, La Fille du Régiment, La Traviata, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut, I Pagliacci, Rigoletto, Tosca, Il Trovatore and Turandot. His recordings are constant best sellers and recordings of operas include Aida, La Bohème, Cavalleria Rusticana, Andrea Chénier, Don Carlo, L’Elisir d’Amore, Ernani, La Fille du Régiment, Norma, I Puritani, La Sonnambula, Lucia di Lammermoor, Maria Stuarda, Mefistofele, La Favorita, L’Amico Fritz, Manon Lescaut, Pagliacci, Idomeneo, I Lombardi, Macbeth, Luisa Miller, Otello, Rigoletto, Tosca, La Traviata, Il Trovatore and William Tell. Pavarotti has recorded the Verdi Requiem and the Rossini Stabat Mater and his catalogue includes many best-selling solo discs - of recitals, aria collections, Neapolitan and Italian songs and an ever-popular Christmas recording, O Holy Night. The Essential Pavarotti became the first ever classical album to reach the number one position in the UK Pop Charts, remaining there for an unprecedented 5 weeks. Since the 1990 World Cup, Nessun Dorma has become inextricably linked to both Pavarotti and football.
Luciano Pavarotti is dedicated to the development of the careers of young singers and initiated an international vocal competition in Philadelphia, a competition which has helped launch the careers of many singers. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his career, Pavarotti invited winners to Italy for gala performances of La Bohème, resulting in an historic visit to China for performances of the opera with young singers in Beijing. To conclude the visit, Pavarotti gave the first concert ever held in the Great Hall of the People. Alongside his close friend and colleague, Conductor-Pianist, Leone Magiera, the tenor has recently established a major teaching facility for young vocal students in Modena.
The tenor is widely recognised as an equestrian expert and has organised one of the most important show jumping competitions on the international circuit, the Pavarotti International. To coincide with this event, staged in his home town, Pavarotti created his now world-famous annual charity concert, Pavarotti & Friends, which celebrated its tenth concert in 2003. Bringing together artists from diverse musical worlds, the great tenor has been joined by some of the best-known names in rock, pop and jazz, including Bryan Adams, Anastacia, Jon Bon Jovi, Boyzone, James Brown, George Benson, Bono and the Edge of U2, Mariah Carey, Tracey Chapman, The Chieftains, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Natalie Cole, The Corrs, Sheryl Crow, Lucio Dalla, Celine Dion, Brian Eno, Gloria Estefan, the Eurythmics, Bob Geldof, Enrique Iglesias, Elton John, Grace Jones, Tom Jones, BB King, Ricky Martin, John MacLauchlin, Meat Loaf, George Michael, Liza Minnelli, Eros Ramazzotti, Lionel Richie, Spice Girls, Sting, Barry White, Stevie Wonder and Zucchero. These charity concerts have raised millions of dollars for major medical, vocational and educational initiatives in Bosnia, Cambodia, Kosovo, Guatemala, Liberia, Tibet and for Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan. The most recent concert raised over 2 million dollars for Iraqi refugees.
Luciano Pavarotti has been awarded an enormous number of international accolades, including the Commendatore Cross and Grand Official Cross for services to the Italian Republic, numerous Emmy, Gramophone and Grammy Awards (including the 1998 Grammy "Legend Award"), Officer of the Légion d'Honneur, Musicares Person of the Year, Honorary degrees from the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts and the Universities of Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City, Parma, Urbino and San Martin Lima, Peru, the Ville de Paris Prize (awarded by Jacques Chirac), People's Choice Award, Kammersänger (presented by the Austrian Minister of Culture). In 1998, to celebrate the tenor's 30th anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Mayor of New York, Rudi Giuliani, proclaimed Luciano Pavarotti Day. Four years ago, Pavarotti was appointed a United Nations Messenger for Peace by Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan and, in 2001, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) presented the tenor with the coveted Nansen Award in recognition of helping to raise more funds for the UN refugee agency than any other private individual. In November 2001, President Gorbachev presented Luciano Pavarotti with the World Social Award in Vienna and he was recently presented with a Kennedy Center Honors Awards. He was recently presented with the Eisenhower Medal and given the highest honour of the Italian community of the USA: the induction into the Italian Hall of Fame by NIAF (National Italian American Foundation).
Decca recently released a brand new studio album of original songs, entitled Ti adoro. Luciano Pavarotti has always been proud of his achievement in reaching out to large audiences with his repertoire of opera arias and Neapolitan songs. But, over many years, Pavarotti's label repeatedly requested him to record an album of new songs. The resulting 13-track album, made up of specially arranged and commissioned songs, includes, as a bonus track, Pavarotti's immortal interpretation of Lucio Dalla's classic Caruso, re-edited with Jeff Beck playing guitar.
In March 2004, Luciano Pavarotti gave his final performance in staged opera at New York's Metropolitan Opera House and recently announced the start of a 40-date farewell celebration tour of concerts around the world, with performances throughout Europe, South East Asia, the Middle East, South and Central America, the USA and Canada.
Luciano Pavarotti married his long-term partner, Dr Nicoletta Mantovani, in December 2003, and, in January this year, they celebrated the third birthday of their daughter, Alice.
Credits Photo: Decca/Terry O Neill