23 Feb 2019

Pavarotti in Perspective

From Appointment, 7:00 pm on 23 February 2019

Early in his career Pavarotti was already known as the 'King of the high C's' and his later collaborations with Plácido Domingo and José Carreras as The Three Tenors made him a household name.

Luciano Pavarotti CC BY Mariomanias
Luciano Pavarotti CC BY 4.0 Mariomanias

Pavarotti himself said  that "part of his importance was in ‘saving’ opera by popularizing it at a time when it seemed a doomed art form."  That opera was doomed at that time is debatable when opera houses were actually regularly sold out.

But people must have been grateful, because his farewell to the Met on 13 March 2004 garnered a 15-minute standing ovation and ten curtain calls. It ended a career of 379 appearances with the company.

Roger Flury suggests that the real key to Pavarotti's success was three-fold.

"First, his individuality of voice - the steely, silver edge, the openness of vowels, the stylistic traits that evolved into sometimes outrageous mannerisms.

Secondly, the common touch – the persona, the charisma and the ability to communicate with audiences of any size.

Thirdly - and maybe most importantly (although it’s also the most difficult to explain) there’s the sense that in hearing Pavarotti one is in direct contact with the music, in touch with the composer. He cuts out the middleman. We are not aware of him as a re-interpreter of the written note. He becomes the music itself.

That doesn’t mean he was the most musical or stylistic singer, that he made the best business or artistic decisions, or that he lived an impeccable life.

Far from it. But he had a gift that couldn’t be taught."

Music Details:

PUCCINI:            Che gelida manina (La Bohème)                Laserlight 15 226

DONIZETTI         Una furtive lagrima (L’Elisir d’amore)          Decca 425 681

VERDI                 La Donna e mobile (Rigoletto)                   Tring Sym 104

DONIZETTI         Pour mon âme (La fille du regiment)           Decca 414 520

MASCAGNI          excerpt (L’amico Fritz)                                 EMI 5 75330

VERDI                  Ma se m’e forza perditi (Un Ballo in Maschera) Decca 440 042

TOSTI                   A Vuchella                                                     Decca 421 526

CRESCENZO      Rondine al Nido                                             Decca 430 433

VERDI                  Dio mi potevi (Otello)                                     Decca 440 843

PUCCINI              Nessun dorma (Turandot)                              Decca 425 681

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes