Born on October 12, 1935, on the outskirts of Modena in north-central Italy, tenor Luciano Pavarotti made his operatic debut at the Teatro Reggio Emilia in 1961, performing as "Rodolfo" in La Boheme. He then made his international debut at the Royal Opera House in London in 1963, and, two years later, made his American debut in the Miami production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Pavarotti went on to become a hugely popular and internationally known opera star, achieving a large following due to his recordings and television appearances, and ultimately helping expand the popularity of opera worldwide. He died in Modena in 2007, at the age of 71.
Luciano Pavarotti, known for his larger-than-life showmanship that helped expand the popularity of opera, was born on October 12, 1935, on the outskirts of Modena in north-central Italy. The son of a baker and amateur singer, Pavarotti's family was crowded into a two-room apartment. By 1943, World War II had forced the family into a rented single room in the countryside.
Pavarotti wanted to be a soccer star, but found himself enjoying his father's recordings, featuring the popular tenors of the day such as Bjoerling, Tito Schipa and his favorite, Giuseppe Di Stefano. At around the age of 9, he began singing with his father in a small local church choir. He also studied singing with childhood friend Mirella Freni, who later became a star soprano.
At age 20, Pavarotti traveled with a chorus from his hometown to an international music competition in Wales. The group won first place.
Pavarotti abandoned a career in school-teaching to dedicate his life to singing. He won the international competition at the Teatro Reggio Emilia in 1961, making his operatic debut there as "Rodolfo" in La Boheme on April 29. He made his international debut in 1963, when he stepped in for tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano in the role of Rodolfo at the Royal Opera House in London.
Pavarotti then took part in the La Scala tour of Europe (1963-64). His American debut in February 1965, in the Miami production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, also launched his legendary partnership with Australian soprano Joan Sutherland. It was with Sutherland that Pavarotti took London's Covent Garden and the New York Metropolitan Opera by storm in 1972 with a sparkling production of a Donizetti favorite, La Fille du Regiment.
Pavarotti's voice and performance were very much in the powerful style of the traditional Italian tenor. He quickly became internationally known as a concert performer, achieving a large following due to his many recordings and television appearances.
In 1982, Pavarotti appeared in the film Yes, Giorgio. That same year, he published a volume of an autobiography.
Pavarotti's participation in the Three Tenors with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras was hugely successful, and has been credited with bringing classical music to the masses at a level never seen previously. In addition to performing with the group, he shared the stage with several rock stars, including Eric Clapton and U2 frontman Bono, and with pop stars such as Celine Dion and the Spice Girls.
During the Bosnia war, Pavarotti and Bono collected humanitarian aid. The famous opera singer also worked with the late Princess Diana of England to raise money to help ban land mines worldwide. In 2005, Pavarotti was granted the freedom of the city of London, and received a Red Cross Award for Services to Humanity.
Pavrotti performed "Nessun Dorma" during his last major performance, at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in February 2006.
While preparing to resume his 40-city farewell tour in July 2006, Pavrotti underwent emergency surgery at a New York hospital to remove a pancreatic tumor. The tenor underwent another two weeks of treatment in August 2007, at a hospital in his hometown of Modena, Italy. He was released two weeks before his death, attended to at home by cancer specialists.
Pavarotti died in Modena on September 6, 2007, at the age of 71. He was survived by four daughters—three with his first wife Adua and one with his second wife, Nicoletta Mantovani—and one granddaughter.
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