He was one of the most famous tenors of all time: Luciano Pavarotti. One of his childhood friends was the soprano Mirella Freni, who later became his singing colleague. Pavarotti originally wanted to become a teacher – he worked as a teacher in his hometown of Modena for two years.
But music accompanied Pavarotti from childhood: Luciano named tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano as his greatest idol. His father owned the records of the tenors who were popular at the time.
In 1956, when Pavarotti was twenty years old, he decided to become a singer: He became a student of the famous Italian tenor Arrigo Pola.
After his training, it didn’t take long for Pavarotti to find his signature role: in 1961, he made his debut at the Reggio nell’Emilia Opera House in Puccini’s La Bohème. He played the role of Rodolfo.
Around this time Pavarotti won the international singing competition Concorso Internazionale: the prize was an appearance at the Modena Opera House. Here he worked for the first time with the Italian pianist and conductor Leone Magiera, with whom he later gave numerous recitals. His debut at the Modena Opera House brought him to the top: the performance in Modena was followed by numerous offers from opera houses all over the world.
Opera star all over the world
In 1966 Luciano Pavarotti made his debut at La Scala in Milan. It was around this time that Luciano Pavarotti met his agent Herbert Breslin: Without the work of agents like Herbert Breslin, Luciano Pavarotti would hardly have become a world star.
In 1968 Breslin organized Pavarotti’s debut at the Metropolitan Opera: the key to world fame in the career of every opera singer.
In the years that followed, Pavarotti made various operatic appearances around the world, including at the Salzburg Festival in 1978 and 1983.
At the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Pavarotti set a special record in 1988: The audience applauded for 67 minutes and there were 165 curtain calls.
The Three Tenors
It is primarily because of his collaboration with the Three Tenors that Luciano Pavarotti has remained unforgotten to this day: The Three Tenors, consisting of Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti, made their debut at the final of the 1990 World Cup, and the live broadcast of the concert is said to have reached a billion people: Thus, opera star Luciano Pavarotti became a pop star known even to people who were not into opera.
The 1990 debut of the ensemble was so successful that the Three Tenors also performed at the finals of the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups.
The driving force behind the success of the Three Tenors was once again Pavarotti’s agent Herbert Breslin, joined by Italian manager Mario Dradi.
His work with the Three Tenors was the high point of Pavarotti’s career: he had become the first classical artist to climb the pop charts. He popularized the genre of opera like hardly any tenor before. Luciano Pavarotti was also honored in the world of classical music: Herbert von Karajan called Pavarotti the “tenor of the century”; moreover, Pavarotti sang the role of Cavaradossi (Tosca by Giacomo Puccini) in Karajan’s last opera performance in 1989.
The repertoire of Pavarotti
Originally Luciano Pavarotti was characterized as a lyric tenor: Especially in his early career, when he performed mainly in opera houses, he sang the parts of Bellini, Donizetti and the young Verdi. Later in his career he also sang dramatic roles and participated in operas of the verismo genre: Verismo is a genre of opera that gathers particularly dramatic and socially critical pieces.
Pavarotti was also known as a crossover artist: as part of the Pavarotti and Friends concerts, the opera star performed together with pop stars. The recordings were also released and achieved record-breaking sales figures.
Luciano Pavarotti’s repertoire included nearly 18 operatic roles. Compared to other opera singers, this seems relatively small at first: the crucial factor is what Pavarotti made of his repertoire. With his scarce repertoire, Pavarotti influenced not only the opera world, but also the world of popular music.
Throughout his career, Pavarotti sang alongside Joan Sutherland, his childhood friend Mirella Freni, and Montserrat Caballé.
In 2004, after three acclaimed performances in Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera, Luciano Pavarotti announced the end of his active stage career. His last major appearance was at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
On September 6, 2007, Luciano Pavarotti died in his hometown of Modena at the age of 71.
Simon von Ludwig