Thursday, September 6, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti, RIP

Along with my fondness for the King of Rock 'n' Roll, I have a soft spot for the King of High C's, who died this morning of pancreatic cancer. (Also fits into my admiration of powerful fat men.) While I couldn't find any footage of old Lucky singing to basset hounds, it was easy to compile some fine moments. You'll notice I don't include any bullshit duets with Michael Bolton (assclown!) or Andrea Bocelli (faker!), or Christmas specials, or anything that isn't an aria. All that was beneath the big man, and the point of today is honoring him:

Pavarotti as Pagliacci, the sad clown singing "Vesti la giubba." The gist is: "the show must go one despite the fact that my wife's a cheating whore who is making an ass of me." Surely this temporary suppression of jealous rage will work--who ever heard of an opera with a tragic ending?

Pavarotti as Calàf,
the suitor of the mysterious (i.e., Asian) Turandot, anticipating his victory in his quest to win her hand. "Nessun dorma" ("No man shall sleep") has become a popera smash in recent years with numerous covers appearing in films and commercials, but the several high c's make this the signature Pavarotti aria. Accept no imitations.

Pavarotti as Mario, comparing his love Tosca to a portrait he is painting--the title, "Recondita Armonia" come from the line Recondita armonia di bellezze diverse ("Concealed harmonies of contrasting beauties"). Transcendent from the first note to the last.

Pavarotti as the Duke of Mantua, singing "La donna è mobile" ("Bitches are sneaky") from Rigoletto. This particular video is a demonstration of why canned opera seldom works--the dubbing is off (partially YouTube's fault, but I've seen this version on tape, and it's not much better in the original), the space feels too small to hold the magnificent aria, and Pavarotti's acting is, to put it politely, more suited to stage than screen. But that last high C--unbelievable.

1 comment:

Akshay said...

We can't forget Pavarotti's immortal and surprisingly not-that-ridiculous duet with James Brown on "This is Man's Man's Man's (Man's) World."