The King of the High C’s
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Ceylon Today Features
When you think of opera, you might be tempted to yawn out a little, and I wouldn’t blame you. More often than not, the classical art form of opera is portrayed as rather boring compared to modern-day entertainment.
But in the late 90s and early 2000s, that all changed. Suddenly, opera was exciting, entertaining and was loved by people throughout the world. And one man played a big part in making opera fun again; Luciano Pavarotti.
Although having been a performer in opera since his 20s, Luciano Pavarotti broke out of his existing fame within those involved in the art form with his performance at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, which became a global sensation after it was broadcasted by the BBC. The broadcast skyrocketed Pavarotti into fame and played a massive role in bringing opera into the mainstream, and even became the biggest selling classical record of all time.
Since then, his fame has skyrocketed, which is evident in the massive live performances he has headlined in. A couple of examples of such instances are the televised concert in London’s Hyde Park, where Pavarotti performed to an audience of 150,000 people and his historic June 1993 performance in Central Park, New York which had a live audience of 500,000 people, with the entire performance televised around the world as well.
Football to opera
Although he grew up to be arguably the most famous tenor in the modern day, Pavarotti didn’t always have a passion for music. In fact, his childhood dream was to become a football goalie.
Born in 1935 to a working-class family, Luciano’s family of four had little money growing up. Although his father was (according to Pavarotti) a fine tenor voice of his own, he had not sought after a life in opera in nervousness.
It was his father’s music collection that sparked Luciano’s love for music. And although his childhood dream was to become a goalkeeper, he was talked into becoming a school teacher by his mother. But it didn’t take long (two years) until he decided to quit his job and seek a career in music.
Rising in fame
Pavarotti began to pursue the study of music seriously at the age of 19, under the esteemed teacher and professional tenor Arrigo Pola. However, as impressive as his voice is, his rise to fame was steady and gradual, spanning across a number of years throughout many performances.
However, if you were to identify a defining moment in his career was his performance as Tonio in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment took place at the Royal Opera House. It was here that his powerful voice and wide vocal range earned him the title of ‘King of the High Cs.’
Of course, his iconic voice captured an audience that went far beyond the opera-going community, gaining international notoriety, sharing fame and notoriety that hardly any opera singer has ever experienced before.
One last show
As many good things do, good things always come to an end, and Pavarotti’s came after his final performance in the closing ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics, performing the number that initially brought his worldwide fame, Nessun Dorma from the Opera Turandot once again.
It wasn’t long after that he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and passed away on 6 September 2007. However, he left a musical legacy that shines bright even today, one that will continue to shine for decades on.
Is this the first time you’re reading about Pavarotti? Then you should definitely take some time to enjoy some of his performances that are available to watch on platforms such as YouTube.