September 06, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti dead at 71

IF our parents had their Enrico Caruso, we had our Luciano Pavarotti.

This gifted Italian, with a voice that could make anyone weep from its pure beauty has passed away, but his contributions to the world of opera will be fondly remembered. No other tenor nor any classical singer other than Pavarotti was able to make opera accessible to the masses, paving the way for a lot of younger artists like Andrea Bocelli, Russell Watson, Josh Groban, Alessandro Safina, even Il Divo to be successful in their efforts to cross opera with popular music, and creating a whole new music genre. (Imagine a classical artist such as Pavarotti collaborating with U2's Bono and Sting on songs and music projects. What horror it must have been for classical music purists everywhere! Hahaha!)

I, for one, immensely enjoyed the Three Tenors in Concert series where Pavarotti had teamed up with the great voices of Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. They sang not only opera but Broadway songs and pop music as well. This showed the audience that these three, were not buttonholed, constricted artists. Their first concert, at the Caracalla Ruins in Rome, with music conducted by the equally celebrated Zubin Mehta, is one of my favorite performances ever, both on CD and on DVD.

When Pavarotti came to Manila in 11994, I remember my friends and I camping out on the grounds of the PICC where he was supposed to perform, within view of the huge jumbotronic projector TV that had been set up for those who couldn't afford to pay for the P5,000 a pop tickets. Alas, Pavarotti canceled that night – I later learned his throat hurt from all the mangoes he reportedly had eaten – and we failed to experience what could have been a most historic musical moment in our young lives. Too bad we could no longer return the next night for the Master's concert. (According to a PR practitioner who was working then at the Philippine Plaza, they had to feed lots of people that night, the hotel comping the meals, just to assuage the ticket holders' irritation at the postponed concert.)

Pavarotti, with his "High C's" and love of life will be missed. In his honor, I am temporarily switching my blog's theme music to opera. Below is a performance by the Master of Nessun Dorma, one of the songs he has come to be identified with.


Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o, Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che fremono d'amore
e di speranza.

Ma il mio mistero e chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun sapra!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo diro
quando la luce splendera!

Ed il mio bacio sciogliera il silenzio
che ti fa mia!

(Il nome suo nessun sapra!...
e noi dovrem, ahime, morir!)

Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincero!
vincero, vincero!

None must sleep! None must sleep!
And you, too, Princess,
in your cold room,
gaze at the stars
which tremble with love
and hope!

But my mystery is locked within me,
no-one shall know my name!
No, no, I shall say it as my mouth
meets yours when the dawn is breaking!

And my kiss will break the silence
which makes you mine!

(No-one shall know his name,
and we, alas, shall die!)

Vanish, o night!
Fade, stars!
At dawn I shall win!

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