Pavarotti Says Goodbye To Stage
Written by: Carolina Taylor
Remembering a man for his gifts of voice and self-
One of the greatest voices to grace a stage has bid farewell to his fans and to his family of musicians, at the Metropolitan Opera. His voice, his face and his body showed the time and years, but his spirit and presence shined through. With dignity and honor, he walked off stage, leaving many in tears.
It was always The Three Tenors: Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and the most famous, the most powerfully glorious, at least to me, Luciano Pavarotti. Many lovers of opera and the classical genre agree. Spanning the generations of musical ingenuity and showmanship, Pavarotti has blended song with hundreds of contemporaries throughout his career. Who doesn't know Pavarotti?
I remember coming home from concerto rehearsals and walking into a house rich with the smell of burning incense, mulberry candles and the thrill of Pavarotti echoing from the record player, throughout every room. For a sense of nostalgia, I have a choice of 10 CDs of his that I can throw in and drift back in time and that's only one-third of the albums my mother owned. Not many artists can claim that kind of solid endurance. His unique concerts, which seemed to gain monumental movement with the kick-off of his 1995 Pavarotti and Friends concert, held in his hometown of Modena, Italy, were most famous for bringing in big names, and big bucks for causes that wrapped the globe.
Universally respected and adored, Pavarotti has brought in attendees such as the late Diana Princess of Wales, heads of state and politicians of every variation, as well the world's best and most exciting names in pop music, creating timeless albums and concerts. Bono and The Edge, Brian Eno, Zucchero, Jovanotti, Simon Le Bon, Dolores O'Riordan, Meat Loaf, Michael Bolton, The Chieftains andNenad Bach topped '95s bill. The robust powerhouse dedicated that concert and many to follow, to causes he staunchly supported, such as War Child's Music center (Bosnian Relief) project that year. In the years to follow he supported projects to assist children of poverty and war-stricken regions, Guatamala and Kosovo, Cambodia and Tibet, and Liberia with top artists such as Joan Osbourne, Elton John, and jazz sensation Eric Clapton lending their sound, for a noteworthy legend, and cause.< BR>
Pavarotti's heart and talent has always been directed at refugee causes and an inordinate amount of time, passion, and his proceeds went to refugee assistance in particular. For the last years that Pavarotti and Friends has had its run, all proceeds have gone directly to programs such as United Nations refugee agency's programs for Angolan refugees in Zambia. Other famous chart-topping names for those concerts included Sting, Lou Reed, James Brown, Andrea Bocelli, Grace Jones and Zucchero. A choir consisting of 30 Angolan refugee children, specially flown in from Zambia, and 30 Italian children, also performed at his show-stopping performances. It's been a vast and varied history of performers, but with a common theme: Humanitarian Aid.
Throughout the years, even designers like Versace and Giorgio Armani have pitched in behind the scenes and walked through the midst of the gala events. In June 2001, Pavarotti was awarded the Nansen Refugee Award, the top global award for services to refugees, in recognition of his abiding support and concern for refugees.
His deep tight-laced phrasing, heart wrenching in its pureness, has drawn fans back, time and time again. His hearty personality and effortless high notes have brought him a popularity unparalleled among modern opera stars, but Pavarotti always asked to be treated and taken seriously, as an artist in the world outside of opera.
Just so on Saturday night, with his farewell stop at the Met. If you are one of the lucky few to have seen the legend in concert, as I have, you left humbled and deeply enriched, musically and socially.
Throughout the years, Pavarotti has endured rumors and innuendos about his vast array of paramours and his love of notoriety, but no one can say the man didn't energize and stamp the culture and face of music history forever. However, few would have guessed in '02 that the endearing tenor, now 68, would be back on stage Saturday night for the first of three farewell performances in Puccini's "Tosca."
May of '02, Joseph Volpe, the Metropolitan's general manager, informed the disappointed crowd that Pavarotti had canceled what was to be his final goodbye performance because of illness and had refused to come on stage to explain. Volpe told him, "This is a hell of a way to end this beautiful career of yours."
But unerringly, it appears the two made amends and Pavarotti clearly wanted to bid adieu properly to his fans and his beloved Metropolitan Opera House, where he had sung 373 performances of 20 roles since his initial debut in 1968. On Saturday, Pavarotti's entrance was greeted by thunderous applause. The cheering brought a familiar smile to his aging face as he walked slowly across the lavish Franco Zeffirelli set. As always, at ease on stage, he soon relaxed and playfully smiled at fans, setting the mood for the acts to follow. There were points throughout the evening that his performance waned, and his breathless strain could not be heard above the orchestra led by James Levine, but as one fan said, this did nothing to diminish the power of his final act. "I will always remember this moment. There was not a dry eye in the house." Bravely, he battled his weakness, relaying to the crowd time and time again, why they loved that signature Pavarotti sound.
Unlike his last performances, from Madame to Aida, he did not seem to gather his strength back, but most of the crowd did not come to see a singer say goodbye, anyway. They came to see a gentle, generous master step down. How ironic, that he lent such a poignant close to his character Cavaradossi's last dying hours, final moments. The crowd seemed to feel that power. As they stood and screamed their applause, they sadly watched the end of a musical icon.
His final two "Toscas" are 3/10 and 3/13. Then, Pavarotti will continue his final farewell world tour concert that he kicked off with his Caesars Palace performance in Las Vegas, Nevada. He will retire completely in 2005.
We will fondly remember the man that brought music to a whole new level; a level that had no class delineations, no boundaries. We will say goodbye to the years of beauty, art, and humanity that he has left to us.
Pages Updated On: 27-May-2005 - 21:00:03