The New York Times Reports that Maestro Luciano Pavarotti has died. With it, the heart of the opera world is broken and bereaved. As an American of Italian descent, an Opera lover and singer, and as a fan of Italian culture, I am more than sad. Another part of my history is gone.
I began hearing Maestro Pavarotti at a tender age. As he began to come of age as the world's pre-eminent post-World War tenor in the late 1960's and early 1970's his special brand of opera appeared on the Sunday Morning Italian American radio broadcasts and Shell Oil company sponsored Metropolitan Opera House Radio Performances that could be heard throughout my home. My mom and Dad would have breakfast to his and other great Italian-American singers, then dad would work around the house listening to the music these talented men and women made. Sunday was often the only day of the week we would even see my dad. If we wanted to be with him, and we always did, we learned to love Italian music.
Pavarotti, Roselli, Sinatra, Como, Prima, Butti, Connie Francis, all brought the different sounds of Italian music to my ears and home. Mind you I do not speak a word of real Italian. I understand some, and the more bastardized it is, the better I understand it. I know some of the Neapolitan dialect. But I can sing in the language. I can understand the great emotions that the music conjures up.
(If you never heard Luciano Pavarotti sing, click on this
In college, I had the opportunity to study opera. To sing with my first formal coach, and for a brief moment even pretend that I had sufficient talent to sing on the same stage as the Great Pavarotti. Alas, that was never to be. I was good, but he was great. I had a high B but my C was iffy and my D was usually bludgeoned into submission. I would never make it to the Met to perform. I did however go to see them work.
I new I could try cases someday. Maybe even argue in the SCOTUS or Der Hauge, but I would never know a 15 minute ovation in the Met, or La Scala. That is how NY said good by to Luciano Pavarotti. In his last performance, missing notes and in failing health, NY'ers didn't care. They had spent hundreds of dollars to hear what by would have been by all accounts a bad concert. Instead, we heard no errors, we heard the man of our opera youths, the man who made the art form real again. We loved him. And in his very human way, he loved us too.
Luciano Pavarotti, age 71, leading tenor for the NY Metropolitan Opera company has died, from pancreatic cancer complications. In my memory of my dad cutting wood and building homes and doing projects around my house, Pavarotti, just like my dad, will live forever.
Buona Notte Maestro.