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Home > Movies > Bollywood News

'Pavarotti took opera to the people'

September 06, 2007 18:12 IST

Gautam Rajadhyaksha

Italian opera legend Luciano Pavarotti succumbed to kidney failure after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer this morning, and the world mourns its huge loss.

Joining in is ace photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha, who is a great lover of opera music, and has an enviable collection of Pavarotti's music.

Rajadhyaksha pays a tribute to the legendary tenor:

I developed a liking for opera at 12. Luciano Pavarotti had just begun his career then. I remember asking my cousin living abroad to get me records of the newer artists. Pavarotti was one of them and I have been following his career ever since. I consider him one of the most important voices of the post-war era.

The glory of his timber and perfect placement of his pitch made him very popular. He is known at the king of the high Cs and he made it sound effortless. The notes would just flow out of his vocal chords.

He started with (Australian opera diva) Joan Sutherland and her husband (conductor) Richard Bonynge, launching a series of Bel Canto. It was one of the lighter roles but to my mind, it suited him the best. He was one of the finest lyric tellers. His bel canto operas of Bellini, Puccini and Verdi operas were the best.

I have been a big collector of Opera records. Unfortunately, I never caught any of his concerts. But if you can catch any DVD of his live concerts, you can feel his natural singing. He didn't have to push himself while performing on high notes.

Luciano PavarottiMass popularity

During the 1970s, opera was becoming an unpopular art and Pavarotti was responsible in making this form popular. Though Maria Callas was better known within the circles, Pavarotti took the music to the people.

In 1990, he performed with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras in the Three Tenors concert at the World Cup and made history in selling largest records in classical opera. That is a must buy DVD for any opera lover. His performance in Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot was on the popular charts for seven consecutive weeks. It became an instant hit.

After collaborating with pop artists like Spice Girls [Images] and Ricky Martin [Images], he was called commercial. He participated in a series of concerts called 'Pavarotti and Friends;' the proceeds of which went to charity. I remember reading that Pavarotti turned opera into popera. But he didn't care. He was a one-man crusade to make this art form popular.

My loyalties remain with Placido Domingo for his musicianship and scholarship. But unlike Carreras, Pavarotti never did versions of film or folk music. I don't think he was threatened by any of them. During the Three Tenors, you feel as if they were oblivious of the audience. You see the three of them thoroughly enjoying themselves.

He is a rare voice to find and it's a great loss for fans like me.

As told to Ruchi Naresh