Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I can’t help but come back to opera again. This time to sing the praises of the best tenor that I have ever heard. I don’t think that I really had ever adequately appreciated the talent of this man. I have gone to some operas but not very many. I find them interesting and even on occasion sublime but really don’t know that I have the experience, the “ear” to make the distinction between one singer and another. When doing an NPR pledge drive last year I won one of the little raffles they have for volunteers and chose the original Three Tenors CD. So now I listen to that in the car when the pledge drive is on. This has been quite an eye opener. All three are very good and if I were to be so fortunate as to be sitting in the audience for an actual performance would surely be enormously impressed with any of these top tier guys. Jose Carreras is the weakest of the three. I was going to suggest his place on a scale of ten but probably that wouldn’t make much sense because I’d really need to make the scale big enough to accommodate all of the professional opera tenors. So maybe I’d need to make it on a scale of 100 (like the wine thing). So maybe Jose would be at about 85. Then there’s a pretty big gap between him and Placido Domingo. Now we’re getting into the truly eye-popping realm of vocal ability so Placido is maybe a 95. Of course the absolute tip top of the scale is Pavarotti. He just has amazing power and clarity. Here is is doing one of the most famous of all arias for tenors “ Nessun Dorma” – sorry about those spanish subtitles.  Watch the intensity he brings near the end  – amazing.  The man is giving everything he’s got.

While researching him I found him to be a complex person in at least one surprising way. Despite his enormous talent and accolades he also was notorious for essentially being a no-show. A Chicago opera house even severed all relationship with him after he canceled 26 of 41 performances over 8 years. One famous aria from Rigoletto “La donna e’ mobile” (The woman is fickle) could be applied to one of it’s most famous performers as well. I did not know that Pavarotti also did a lot of charity concerts “Pavarotti and Friends” in his hometown of Modena which raised substantial sums of money for worthy causes. In these concerts he sang with people as diverse as Mariah Carey, Sting and Freddie Mercury of Queen (now that must have been something else!). He performed in charity concerts throughout the world and received many medals and awards for his good works. If you liked the other video, here is an additional one of “La donna e’ mobile”. This let’s you compare the three tenors. Placido on the left, Jose in the center and of course the big man himself on the right. They really look like good buddies really having fun don’t they?

Pavarotti died of pancreatic cancer in 2007 at the age of 71. Perhaps there were greater tenors but it’s hard to say since they probably predated really good quality sound recording. Still it’s hard to imagine how anyone could be better than Luciano. I hope that you have enjoyed this post and the sounds of Pavarotti. Let me know if you did and especially if you have your own Pavarotti experiences to share.

6 Responses to “Luciano Pavarotti”

  1. Tanya Says:

    “Now we’re getting into the truly eye-popping realm of vocal ability so Placido is maybe a 95. Of course the absolute tip top of the scale is Pavarotti. ”

    Oh, okay then. Let me go and adjust my scale.

    What an idiot.

  2. Joe Says:


    I’m not sure about what you’re saying here. My opinion is what it is. Are you saying that you think that I’m an idiot? Of course if that’s the case then you have the right to your opinion and I, of course, have the right to discount it.


  3. Dana Says:


    By focusing on one tiny detail, you miss the essence of the post. That is your choice I suppose, but rudeness and name calling are certainly not necessary and tells me more about you than you probably wanted to project.


  4. Joe Says:


    Thanks for your response to Tanya’s comment. This is one of those times when I just don’t have the perfect response. You probably know how that is. I think that I should have said something like ” Wow, how insightful. You should really have your own blog so that you can share you profound ideas with others.”

    Actually she said so little that it’s really hard to fathom what prompted the comment. A huge (and rude) Placido Domingo fan, someone with little knowledge of English? Who knows or cares. She’ll probably never return.



  5. Abby Says:

    As a huge opera buff, I agree that Pavrotti is/was absolutely the greatest, after Bjorling. (Check out his Nessun Dorma when you have a chance!) Lots of fun, your blog!

  6. Joe Says:


    I am not familiar with Bjorling. If you think that he’s even better than Pavarotti then I can hardly wait to hear him. I’ll check YouTube. I’ll bet they have something there with him. I’m glad that you enjoy the blog. It’s always nice to get that kind of feedback.


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