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Più di Luciano September 14, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Giuseppe Verdi, Italian, Opera, Theater.

Cover of Il Trovatore album

I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to see a new recording as I was when I walked into Sam Goody’s Manhattan store in 1977 to find this. (And I don’t want to hear the word “Photoshop”; he really was that thin once …)

Like much of classic early Verdi, Il Trovatore doesn’t get performed much any more. It’s not for nothing that this was the opera they chose to make fun of in the Marx Brothers movie; when I saw him perform it at the Met there was a big part of me that was disappointed not to see Harpo and Chico playing baseball in the orchestra pit during the overture.

From a 1988 Met production with Eva Marton, conducted by James Levine, Luciano Pavarotti performs “Di quella pira,” the money aria from Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore:

He was derided for being a lousy actor, mostly by people who only saw him on videos. His style of acting was on a level with the roles and the houses he played — subtle don’t work in the Met.

Here he is near what should have been the end of his career, with Maria Guleghina in the finale of the production that opened the Met’s 1996 season — Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chenier:

Not what he had been twenty-five years earlier … but pretty damn good for sixty-one.

Some of the opera blogs have already descended into snark and reflexive bashing, from people who probably haven’t been around long enough to understand or remember the impact he made at the height of his career.

Aprile Millo, a world-class soprano who sang with him on multiple occasions, remembers him on her blog.

This is the best appreciation I’ve read to date from a “civilian”. Here’s a moving live blog of his funeral.

It’s taken me most of the day to write this … so much music, so many clips, so many memories … He and Joan Sutherland were the first operatic voices I could identify instantly. He was the greatest opera superstar I ever saw live; he is, and will always be, my archetype of grand opera.

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