Luciano Pavarotti (1935–2007) was probably the most famous opera singer in the world and is known to millions who have never set foot inside an opera house.
Pavarotti was born in Italy in 1935. His father was a baker and sang in the local church choir and opera house chorus. As a child, Pavarotti lived with recordings of Benjamino Gigli, Italy's greatest tenor after Caruso, and dreamed of becoming an opera singer.
For six years he studied singing and worked for an insurance company until in 1961 he won a singing competition. Only two years later he was singing at Covent Garden as Rodolfo in 'La Bohème'.
For many years, the partnership of Sutherland and Pavarotti, both on stage and in the recording studio, was celebrated all over the world. They first sang together in 'Lucia di Lammermoor' in Miami in 1965 and made their first appearance together at Covent Garden in the same year in the production of 'La Sonnambula'.
Both singers were able to show off their sense of fun when they appeared in Donizetti’s comic opera 'La Fille du Régiment' at Covent Gardenin 1966. Despite its humour, the role of Tonio has some fiendishly difficult music, including one aria that includes nine high ‘C’s’. Pavarotti’s sensational performance won him an ovation from the audience.
Pavarotti became not only an opera star but a media figure, appearing in commercials, on chat shows and showed a distinct flair for keeping in the public eye. With Placido Domingo and José Carreras, he was one of the ‘Three Tenors' at the World Cup concert in Rome in 1990. His concerts in parks and open spaces like Central Park Gardens in New York and Hyde Park in London made opera popular with a mass audience.
Pavarotti fit the popular public image of an Italian tenor. His size matched his ebullient personality and considerable natural charm. Vocally he was exuberant and emotional. He could make each member of an audience feel that he was singing to them alone. One critic described his appearances as ‘happy occasions' and his love of singing easily communicates to audiences.
Luciano Pavarotti died in September 2007.