From the Vault...


Luciano Pavarotti
"Romantica: The Very Best Of"

© Decca/UTV Records

track listing
  • Caruso
  • Non Ti Scordar Di Me
  • Torna A Surriento
  • Core 'Ngrato
  • Mamma
  • Mattinata
  • Chitarra Romana
  • O Sole Mio
  • Passione
  • La Strada Del Bosco
  • Funiculi Funicula
  • Ti Voglio Tanto Bene
  • Che Gelida Manina
  • Una Furtiva Lagrima
  • Amor Ti Vieta
  • M'appari
  • Dalla Sua Pace
  • Un'aura Amorosa
  • La Danza
  • Nessum Dorma

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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    Luciano Pavarotti
    "Romantica: The Very Best Of"

    Luciano Pavarotti had a great operatic voice. But not compared to who I consider the all-time best opera singer, Mario Lanza. Yes, I pretty much place Mario on a high pedestal. Pavarotti has always been "good" (as most of the tracks on this week's review), but certainly, not the Best. (Sorry to those true Pavarotti fans who would disagree with me.)

    Luciano Pavarotti's father was also a singer, a tenor. Although his father was an recording artista himself, his nervousness became his downfall to become more popular. Luciano was inspired by Mario Lanza -- when he was younger, he would watch his movies, and come home to imitate him. He would spend seven years in vocal training. He really wanted to be a football goalkeeper, and when the opportunity arrived, his mother convinced him to be come a teacher. He would spend two years teaching, but he would develop more interest in singing. Starting in 1954, he took singing seriously, and was taught by Arrigo Pola, a respected teacher and tenor. Luciano Pavarotti was 19 years old in 1954. The following year, his first taste of success was with the Corale Rossini, a male choir, which included his father. During this time he would meet his future wife, Adua Veroni, as they married in 1961.

    His teacher, Arrigo Pola, moved to Japan. Pavarotti then became a student of Ettore Campogalliani, in which Pavarotti's childhood friend, Mirella Freni, was taught. Freni would achieve operatic greatness as Pavarotti. The two shared the stage together many times, and recorded together.

    Throughout the 1960s he would perform at Italian opera houses. In 1965 he debuted in America, and his earliest recording would appear in 1969. The early 1970s began more recognition. In 1972, at New York's Metropolitan Opera, he wow'ed the crowd with nine high Cs in the signature aria, resulting seventeen curtain call encores. In 1973, he performed at the William Jewell College In Liberty, Missouri, as part of the college's Fine Arts Program. Despite battling a small illness and neverousness, he performed with a handkerchief throughout the performance. This would become a signature part of his solo performances.

    More television appearances followed, and awards for his recordings, such as Grammys, platinum and gold discs. Among them were La Favorite with Florenza Cossotto and I Purtani with Joan Sutherland. By the end of the decade, he became a cover story for Time magazine, and returned after 14 years, at the Vienna State Opera.

    The early 1980s saw his Pavoratti International Voice Competition, for young singers. He would perform with the winners. In his 25th anniversary of his career, he performed with the winners in Italy. He would repeat his participation with the winners to the end of the decade. He also performed at opera houses from the middle of the decade.

    The 1990s continued his success in performing on television. The Three Tenors concert was held on the eve of the World Cup Final. Placido Domingo and Jose Carreas joined him, with conductor Zubin Mehta. Their concert recording became the biggest selling classical record of all time. Throughout this decade, Pavoratti performed many outdoor concerts.

    Despite his success, there were some occasional difficulties, as he was known to cancel performances. He reputation at this gave him the name "The King of Cancellations" -- in which he canceled 26 out of 41 scheduled shows at the Lyric Opera House in Chicago. This was brought to the attention when Ardis Kranik of the Lyric Opera House in Chicago banned Pavarotti for his cancellations. Pavarotti's reasons wer from a sciatic nerve, which required two months of treatment. In 1998, he would become the only opera singer to appear on Saturday Night Live as he sang alongside Vanessa L. Williams. He also performed with the band U2 in 1995, "Miss Sarajevo." In 1998, he received the Grammy Legend Award.

    In the 2000s decade, a book was published, The King & I, which was written in parts, bitter, regarding Pavarotti's life. His acting (in opera) was criticized, likewise his inability to read music, learning parts, and personal conduct. The book was written by his manager, Herbert Breslin. Despite the criticisms, Pavarotti's success was also covered. More awards were given, including one for the In Concert Three Tenors album, sharing this award with his fellow tenors. In 2004, he would perform his farewell tour, now aged 69. In 2005 he would have surgeries for his neck, and to repair two vertebraes. In 2006, back surgery. He contacted an infection, which led to cancellation of concerts worldwide. In February, 2006, his last performance was at the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Turin, Italy. (Two years later, director Leone Magiera wrote, that this performanced was lip-synched, by both the orchestra and Pavarotti, due to the subzero conditions.) During the farewell tour, Pavarotti had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He continued performing, fighting against the implications of his diagnosis. He died in his home, on September 6, 2007. He had married twice, his first wife of 34 years, Adua. They had three daughters. He was married for a second time in 2003, to Nicoletta Mantovani, who was his personal assistant. She was 34 years old, Pavarotti was 68. They had two daughters, unfortunately, one of them died of birth complications. At the time of his death, he had one granddaughter.

    In reviewing this album, I can honestly say that the recordings here are "just good." I guess I compare too much to Mario Lanza. The opening track, "Caruso" is a "fair" recording. However, the next track, "Non Ti Scordar Di Me" is the English version of Elvis Presley's "Surrender."

    As mentioned, there are many "good" tracks here: "Core 'Ngrato," "La Strada Del Bosco", "Ti Voglio Tanto Bene," "Che Gelida Manina," "Una Furtiva Lagrima", "Amor Ti Vieta," "M'appari," "Dalla Sua Pace," "Un'aura Amorosa," "La Danza," "Nessum Dorma." (The last song mentioned in this list was one of his most popular.)

    Comparing to the great Mario Lanza, two songs are close, yet not just quite: "Mamma," and "Mattinata." "Chitarra Romana has a more Italian feel than opera, and maybe if there were more songs like this, my thoughts would be more positive. Even his version of "O Sole Mio" is "good," Mario Lanza's is far better. "Passione" is as good as the title says, Passion. Lastly, the Allan Sherman parody comes to mind on "Funiculi, Funicula" -- Sherman's "America's A Nice Italian Name."

    It's true -- Pavarotti was one of Opera's finest. Next to Mario Lanza, not even close. As the expression "often imitated, never duplicated," Pavarotti as a youngster would imitate in his mirror, that of Lanza. Imitation maybe the best word here, but never will be duplicated. I probably won't "stock up" on many of Pavarotti's recordings, but I am interested in hearing The Three Tenors. They released four concert albums, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2000. The last concert mentioned was a Christmas concert. Luciano Pavarotti lived 72 years. His legacy as an opera vocalist has made him one of the finest and successful artist in Opera and Classical history. His music of course has and will be a future influence to many. I'm sure he's performing with Mario Lanza now, in the big Opera House in the Sky. Pavarotti was a great singer, as his legacy will continue for a lifetime to come. Although he just may not be as huge as Mario Lanza was, he was definitely a huge impact to music, and his fans.

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