Italian Tenor Pavarotti Dies at Age 71
Sept. 6, 2007, 10:45 AM EST
The Associated Press
ROME -- Luciano Pavarotti, opera's biggest superstar of the late 20th century, died Thursday. He was 71. He was the son of a singing baker and became the king of the high C's.
Pavarotti, who had been diagnosed last year with pancreatic cancer, died at his home in his native Modena at 5 a.m., his manager told The Associated Press in an e-mailed statement. His wife, Nicoletta, four daughters and sister were among those at his side, manager Terri Robson said.
"In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness," Robson said.
Video: Remembering a legend
Pavarotti's charismatic persona and ebullient showmanship — but most of all his creamy and powerful voice — made him the most celebrated tenor since the great Enrico Caruso and one of the few opera singers to win crossover fame as a popular superstar.
For serious fans, the unforced beauty and thrilling urgency of Pavarotti's voice made him the ideal interpreter of the Italian lyric repertory. For millions more, his thrilling performances of standards like "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" came to represent what opera is all about.
"Nessun Dorma" turned out to be Pavarotti's last aria, sung at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin in February 2006. His farewell to opera was in Puccini's "Tosca" at New York's Metropolitan in March 2004.
Instantly recognizable from his charcoal black beard and tuxedo-busting girth, Pavarotti radiated an intangible magic that helped him win hearts in a way Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras — his partners in the hugely popular "Three Tenors" concerts — never quite could.
"I always admired the God-given glory of his voice — that unmistakable special timbre from the bottom up to the very top of the tenor range," Domingo said in a statement from Los Angeles.