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People Top 5
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- September 24, 2007
- Vol. 68
- No. 13
Luciano Pavarotti 1935--2007
Opera's Greatest Superstar Brought High Notes, and Duets with Bono, to the Masses
For his millions of fans around the globe, it was Pavarotti who was, quite simply, the best. Indisputably the biggest and most beloved opera star of his time, Pavarotti, 71—who died Sept. 6 of pancreatic cancer—had serenaded the world for 46 years, performing not only at Milan's La Scala but at stadiums, the Olympics, even on the Rosie O'Donnell Show. With one of opera's most beautiful voices—bright, sensual and infused with joy—he created a style that was his alone. "You can recognize his voice from the first note he sings," says tenor Andrea Bocelli.
The son of a baker who loved to sing, Pavarotti—who had three daughters with first wife Adua and a fourth with Nicoletta Mantovani, the young assistant he married in 2003—was a regular on the European opera circuit when he secured his stardom in America in 1972 by nailing nine high Cs in an aria from La Fille du Regiment in New York City, a feat that brought down the house and earned him the nickname "The King of High Cs." But highbrow fame was only part of his dream. His Three Tenors collaborations with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, first conceived as entertainment for the 1990 World Cup, led to millions in record sales. At his Pavarotti & Friends charity concerts, he sang duets with Sting and Bono. Purists scoffed at his commercial pursuits—his 1982 Hollywood debut, Yes, Giorgio, was a clunker—but Pavarotti told PEOPLE, "These are things that will bring this little world of opera to a larger audience, and I don't care how we do it."
- With Simon Perry/Modena,
- Silvia Sansoni/Modena,
- CHUCK ARNOLD.
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