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Pavarotti, Luciano (12th October 1935-6th September 2007)

He was an operatic tenor born in Modena. Italy, to a relatively poor family.  His father was a baker and also a tenor, and his mother worked in a cigar factory.

During WWII, in 1943, the family were forced to live in one room of a farm and here he became interested in farming.  He began making his mark as a singer when he sang in the church choir from the time he was nine and was also given some voice lessons, which he really didn’t take much notice of at the time, as he had his heart on being a professional footballer (soccer player).

He studied at the Schola Magistrale and after he graduated he became a teacher rather than a footballer on the advice of his mother.  After teaching for two years he decided he wanted to follow a career in music and after the consent of his father, on the provision that he would only have until he was 30 to become successful or his free room and board would be taken away, he began studying in 1959 when he was 19 years old.

Arrigo Pola, who was a professional tenor and teacher in Modena, tutored him at first for no fee, and with him he found that he was blessed with perfect pitch.  After marrying Adua Veroni in 1961, making his debut in La Boheme in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and after Arrigo Pola had moved to Japan, he studied under Ettore Campoganelli and held jobs such in teaching and selling insurance.

He gave up singing after six years of nothing but recitals that gave no remuneration and the discovery of a nodule on his vocal chords, which would later disappear as the stress he was experiencing was relieved.  However, by 1965 he was touring and debuted in America with the Greater Miami Opera opposite Joan Sutherland as a replacement for the scheduled tenor when he took ill.  This was the beginning of what would result in him becoming one of the most successful operatic tenors in history.

He would appear after that in La Scala, Covent Garden, the New York Metropolitan Opera and in hundreds of other international venues, playing many favourite operatic leads.  His numerous recordings have resulted in gold and platinum discs and the receipt of many Grammy Awards as well as making acclaimed broadcasts with record audiences.

His real rise to fame began in 1990 when he sung Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” as the theme song for the coverage of the football World Cup that year and it featured heavily on the television and radio, and even on the pop charts.  At that competition he also appeared with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras in The Three Tenors concert, which would prove more successful than anyone could have imagined and spawned several more over the next few years.  The recording from this concert remains the highest seller of all time in the world of classical music.

In the world of popular music he has appeared with many artists in concert and on recordings including Elton John and U2, appeared in a duet with Vanessa Williams on Saturday Night Live, and is mentioned by the Bloodhound Gang in their song “Mope”.

In the movies he appeared in Yes, Giorgio in 1982 but this did not meet with much success and he had far better luck on the video and DVD releases of various opera performances as well has being heard on the soundtracks of movies such as The Witches of Eastwick, Analyse This, Fatal Attraction and The Family Man.

Always involved with the world of musical education he conceived The Pavarotti International Voice Competition around 1980 and the winners of the competitions throughout the ensuing years would all appear in one of his productions.

In receipt of many awards for his musicianship he was granted the Grammy Legend Award, Kennedy Center Honors and holds the record for the most curtain calls in history, no less than 165.

As a humanitarian he was involved in the “Pavarotti and Friends” concerts in Modena where all the proceeds were given to the UN and in 1998 he was named the United Nations’ Messenger in Chief.  After the war in Bosnia he founded the Pavarotti Music Center to assist budding artists in the area and for this he received honorary citizenship of Sarajevo. Working with Princess Diana he raised money for the elimination of land mines, was awarded the MusiCares person of the Year by the National Academy of the recording Arts and Sciences, the Red Cross Award for Services to Humanity, the Freedom of London Award, and the Nansen Medal from the UN High Commision of Refugees.

He remarried in 2003 and began a farewell tour the following year, with his final opera performance being at the New York Met in Tosca in March 2004.  In December of that year he announced another farewell tour of 40 cities but in March 2005 he had surgery on his neck, which led to several cancellations and since that time he was plagued with ill health.

He died in September 2007 of pancreatic cancer, aged 71, leaving four daughters and a granddaughter.