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In June, 1966he first appeared in Covent Garden in another Donizetti role, Tonio in la Fille du Regiment and was so skilled at the difficult range of the role the press dubbed him the "King of the High C's" (Woodstra, Brennan and Schrott, iv; (Ah Mes Amis - Live at Covet Garden 1966).
He began recording and adding to his repetoire; 1969 opposite Renata Scotto in I Lombardi, the rarely performed I Caputelti e I Montecchi, and a complete L'Elisir d'Amore with his now famous friend, Sutherland. On Feburary 17, 1972, Pavarotti made a stunning breakthrough at the Metropolitan Opera in La Fille, receiving 17 curtain calls and wild raves from both the crowd and critics; as well as doting praise from Mirella Freini (Remembering Pavarotti; a Mes Amis - Live at the Met 1972).
From then on, Pavarotti was in demand as a world-class tenor. He was brought into the living rooms of the public through Live From the Met Broadcasts. In fact, his role as Rodolofo in the 1977 broadcast of La Boeheme attracted one of the largest television audiences ever for a televised opera; earning ratings in demographic groups that would traditionally never watch opera (Live from the Met Highlights). Many see this as the key to his being able to break the glass ceiling of opera and appeal to non-traditional music lovers who, perhaps had not yet been exposed to opera. During this period he won a number of platinum and gold records for his performes and had such an international following that he was able to command top booking fees even for smaller roles; the Italian Singer at the 1978 Salzburg Rosenkaviler and in 1983 in the lyrical but not often performed Idomeneo (Pavarotti). The rest of the 1970s were even better for Pavarotti, he was profied in Time with a cover story, returned to the Vienna State Opera to join Karahan in Il Trovatore, and in 1978 sang a solo recital broadcase on Live from Lincoln Center (Bravo Pavarotti- Opera's Golden Tenor; Sutherland). With his popularity rising, the decade of the 1970s certainly catapulted him to fame and, as the article in Time noted, as ambassador of opera to the world.
The 1980s and 1990s -- by all accounts, Pavarotti was a generous and gregarious person off stage as well as on. He was adamant about helping young singers, and set up the pavarotti International Voice Competition, performing with the first winners in 1982; and in 1986 staged excerpts of La Boheme and Un Ballo in Maschera. In fact, to celebrate his 25th anniversary, he took the winners to Italy for a gala performance of Boheme in Modena and Genoa, and then onto China where they staged actual performances of the opera in Beijing. Always popular with Chinese audiences, Pavarotti concluded his visit to China with the first ever concert in the Great Hall of the People for an audience of 10,000; receiving a standing ovation and numerous curtain calls after nine seemingly effortless high C's (Lucianao Pavarotti Concorso Internazional di Canto).
The 1980s found him jetting around the world; La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Staatsopera, and a moving reunion with Mirella Freni for the San Francisco Opera Boheme in 1988, also recorded in video (La Boheme). He worked with Zefirelli on a new production of Don Carlo, but rather than a wonderful reception was criticized and actually booed (Fleming, 103).
It was a non-operatic event, though, that helped solidify Pavarotti's reputation as a first-class tenor. In 1990 he sang the Act III opening aria of Puccini's Turandot, "Nessun Dorma," which was broadcast all over the world by the BBC, and, with the final words translated as "I will win," this became the theme song for the event. It was also during this time frame that he, and fellow tenors Placido Domingo and Jose Carerras, along with conductor Zubin Mehta, began the highly successful Three Tenors Concerts; the three clowing, amazing audiences, poking fun at each other, and showing their skill. Over the course of several years, these concerts, along with Pavarotti;s live televised concerts in Hyde Park, the Eiffel Tower, New York's Central Park and more gleaned over 1,000,000 at the live performances, and countless millions in the television audience (Ross; Lewis).
A televised biography was released in 1995, called the Best is Yet to Come, in which Pavarotti's life and career, performances, musical and non-musical colleages, and family were interviewed (L. Pavarotti). On December 12, 1998, Pavarotti became the first opera singer to perform on Saturday Night Live and also reached out to popular audiences with his performances in Buenos Aires with the band U2 (Saturday Night Live with Pavarotti; Miss Sarajevo).
Pavarotti in the 21st Century -- Pavarotti remained activing in the early part of the century, receiving a large number of distinguished awards: the Kennedy Center Honors (2001); two Guiness World Records for 165 curtain calls and the best-selling classical album ever (with the Three tenors); and in late 2003 released his first and only "crossover" album entitled Ti Adoro as a wedding gift to his new bride, his assistant Nicoletta Mantovani (Block). He began his farewell tour in 2004, at the age of 69, giving his last performance at the Met in New York as Puccini's lovestruck artist Mario Cavoradossi in Tosca, followed by a 40-city farewell tour culminating in Taiwan in 2005. In early 2006 he had a second round of back surgery and contracted an infection forcing him to cancel numerous concerts, but sang "Nessun Dorma" at the 2006 Opening Ceremony at the Winter Olympics in Turin, pre-recording it because of the impossibility of singing in bitter cold late at night (Kington). Tragically, it was also during this farewell tour that Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and although he valiantly fought with durgery and medication, died at age 71 in his Modena home. His manager at the time, Terri Robson, sent a notice to the world, "The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterized his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness" (Pavarotti Dead at 71).
Pavarotti's Popularity- Clearly, one of the reasons for Pavarotti's popularity was his larger than life personality, his willingness to reach out to popular signers, his humanitarianism, and television. Television brought Pavarotti into the homes of millions who had never seen an opera, and many who had no access to opera. He gave numerous free outdoor concerts, his music was readily available through download, DVD, and recording, and despite a rather disastrous and relatively unbelievable performance in the Hollywood movie Yes, Giorgio (1982), idolized by millions.
While Pavarotti had a stellar career, he was critiqued at times. For instance, he frequently cancelled performances, or backed out at the last minute, earning him a dual title besides "King of the High C's," as "King of Cancellations." This was brought to the public's attention in 1989 when Chicago's Lyric Opera severed their relationship with him because of cancelling 26 out of 41 appearances over an 8-year period, an average cancellation rate of over 50%, and disastrous for the box-office (Walsh). In fact, Pavarotti's former manager, Herbert Breslin, published an account of how difficult it was to deal with Pavarotti, and even accused him of not being able to properly read music, learn parts, and act. Pavarotti acknowledged that he cannot read orchestral scores, but denies (and it seems preposterous) that he cannot read music. Breslin, however, helped Pavarotti attain global star status, but the two egos seemed to clash as Pavarotti aged and began to pick and choose his performances more carefully (Breslin).
However some may have a negative feeling about Pavarotti, there is no denying he revitalized opera and brought classical music to far more than almost any other performer prior. He annual hosted the "Pavarotti and Friends" charity concerts in which numerous other singers participated (Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Sting, Queen, Celine Dion, Andrea Borelli, and more) all to raise money for several humanitarian causes supported by the United Nations. He performed concerts for victims of natural disasters and tragedies; worked with Princess Diana to help rid the world of land minds, and in 1998 was appointed the United Nations Messenger of Peace (Luciano Pavarotti to Promote U.N. Causes). Because of his popularity, it is easy to see why people loved his persona. Because of his dedication to causes for the unfortunate, it is easy to understand why he became a musical ambassador for so many, finally earning the 1998 MusiCares Person of the Year, an award given to those who go above and beyond the call of duty to provide heroic support to humanitarian causes (Freedom of London for Pavarotti).
Critique of Recording- in his career, Pavarotti made hundreds of recordings; some entire operas, some concerts, a…[continue]
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