Monday, September 10, 2007

Remembering Pavarotti

I don't remember the exact date or even year, but it must have been 1976 or 1977 when I saw the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti perform. He was doing an opera and song recital at the University of Illinois' Krannert Center for Performing Arts and somehow I got a ticket.

Pavarotti died September 6th of pancreatic cancer at the age of 71.

Pavarotti possessed a magnificent voice and a commanding stage presence. Always present was his trademark white handkerchief and a big infectious smile. His performances were never dull but rather earthy, fun, exciting and always true to the art of opera.

To the enduring horror of opera snobs, Pavarotti would sing just about anything including commercials, huge outdoor concerts, TV, and with pop stars. His Three Tenors performances with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, were also panned by critics but adored by many and sold millions of CDs and videos.

Sadly, as happens to many singers, his voice faded and was not as clear and strong by the end of his career, but that of course did not stop him. Back when I saw him, he was at the top of his game. Fresh, exciting, already popular. He won over audiences with his charm and superb musicianship. Example:

At the concert I saw, I scored one of the worse seats in the house. For sold out performances, the center also sold seats that were behind the stage, also used for a choir loft. The sound was not as good and you saw the performer's backside a lot.

But Pavarotti was different. He knew we were behind him and he was just as happy to see us as he was those who paid more for the prime seats in front. Almost every song he turned and sang to us. At one point, he turned to the main audience and said "Scusilo" Italian for excuse me. He turned to us and sang 3 selections just to us. Even the main audience applauded his magnanimous gesture.

A true artist. RIP Luciano. Grazie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although Domingo is widely considered to have the more versatile voice, I never turn down an opportunity to listen to Pavarotti, while I find Domingo mostly a by-the-book singer. He had heart, and what so many performers can never convey: he enjoyed every note, and he shared that joy.

How many others just go through the motions and expect adoration? Thanks for sharing your Pav moment, Don!