Luciano Pavarotti: Italian of the Week

“I’m a musician. I care about giving people a place where they can go to enjoy themselves and to begin to live again. To the man you have to give the spirit, and when you give him the spirit, you have done everything.”
Luciano Pavarotti


Jeff BrassLuciano Pavarotti was born on October 12, 1935 near Modena, Italy. His father was a baker and an amateur singer while his mother worked in a cigar factory. As a child, he wanted to play soccer, but he was also drawn to singing. He would spend his days listening to his father’s recordings – his favorite quickly became the great operatic tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano. As a teenager, Luciano traveled to Wales to compete with his local chorus group. They went on to win first place in the international singing competition. This win solidified his love for singing and inspired Luciano to take signing seriously. In 1961, he made his operatic debut as Rodolfo in the Puccini opera La bohème. The opening night – when he was only 25 – was a huge success. That night, Luciano decided to become an opera singer .

It was only a few years later in 1963 that Luciano made his international debut in Amsterdam, and later that year in London. Not only was the world of opera stunned by his vocal abilities, but they were taken aback by his emotional performances. Over the entirety of his career, he would go on to perform at major venues throughout the world. His larger-than-life personality, along with his talent, made him a “titan of pop culture.”

By the 1990s, Luciano paired himself with other pop stars, performing with Elton John, Bono, Jon Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton and others. He focused on raising money for charity, and most of the proceeds from these concerts went to medical and education programs in countries throughout the globe. In the early part of the decade, he paired with his friends and fellow opera singers Plácido Domingo and José Carreras to create The Three Tenors. They first performed in 1990 at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Their ability to bring opera to the masses and popular culture paved the way for Andrea Boccelli and Josh Groban.

Luciano gave his final stage performance in March 2004 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. His final live performace was in Turin in 2006 at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics. He passed away on September 6, 2007 from pancreatic cancer.

Sources: Luciano Pavarotti Official Website, The New York Times, NPR

This week’s #ItalianoftheWeek was suggested by fan Sharon B.
Do you have a suggestion for a future #ItalianoftheWeek? Send us an e-mail!

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