1. I really enjoy opera. I don't particularly enjoy going to opera, but I love listening to it, especially when cooking certain dishes and hiking.
2. There was one of the most simple, but wonderful, posts yesterday by Betsy of Blog Ness Monster. The gift she spoke about is a very personal gift. The voice of a Luciano Pavarotti is a gift to the world.
3. For a lovely clip of the beauty of Pavarotti's voice, visit NYC/Caribbean Ragazza's blog and see the wonderful clip.
4. In 12th grade, my NYC school, along with 3 or 4 other NYC schools was chosen by the Metropolitan Opera to do a modified production of La Boheme, using materials and a scenario and score developed by the Met.
5. We also got to see a dress rehearsal of La Boheme, starring Pavarotti as Rudolfo, and the leads were generous enough to meet with their teen counterparts. I was able to meet with David Reppa, the Set Designer, as I was the set designer for our production.
6. The production (the Metropolitan's, not ours) was legendary and you can still buy a DVD of the production. This is a clip of Pavarotti and Placido Domingo and doing O Mimi tu Piu No from La Boheme, as Rudolfo proclaims his love for, and sorrow about, Mimi. It's from a Met Gala in 1991, complete with Japanese subtitles. Pavarotti's voice was even more lovely in 1977, from what I can recall. And no, Domingo was not with Pavarotti in the 1977 production, sadly.
7. I was not excited about opera when I was in high school, despite these incredibly rich experiences. I did enjoy the dress rehearsal we saw, and I liked listening to it on the radio, occasionally, if it was playing on Sunday morning and I was sprawled with a bagel and the Sunday New York Times.
8. I really became hooked on opera when I saw my favorite movie of all time: A Room with a View. This clip gives you both a feeling for the film and for the way it used opera.
9. The music in that movie was magnificent and my favorite piece is O Mio Babbino Caro, sung beautifully here by Kiri Te Kanawa, as she does in the film .
10. I found this piece and some others on this Kiri Te Kanawa CD, and I've played it at least once a week ever since (and that was a good 20 years ago).
11. A pure, top opera voice is a thing of indescribable beauty and the world was lucky to have had Luciano Pavarotti as long as we did.
12. As often follows with a great talent, though, his life was tumultuous, and I'm not certain those who loved him would entirely share the opinion of the world, especially his long-suffering first wife.
13. I believe, though, that sometimes it's the gusto with which you live that allows you to be a truly great artist. There is ample evidence that great creativity and great madness are linked. I believe that the idea of Bacchus may well have grown from the behavior of ancient entertainers.
14. Pancreatic cancer is probably one of the bleakest deaths and I feel very sad that it decimated this proud, over-the-top artiste. I would have preferred that Pavarotti keel over from a heart attack, at the ripe old age of 89, after having consumed a sumptuous and many-coursed meal, with sycophants and his beloved second wife by his side.
15. You Tube is filled with clips of Pavarotti (sometimes accompanied by Domingo and Carreras, the other two of the famed Three Tenors) singing Nessun Dorma, Death Watch, due to both this being one of his signature pieces and for the fact of its irony this week, but I choose instead to leave you with this clip of U2 and Pavarotti paired for Miss Sarajevo. While Pavarotti's contribution here is very brief, his voice soars to the heavens, and he was in his element - the video starts with his kissing Diana on the red carpet (he was close to her and was devastated when she died), and shows him in the middle of the glitz and glamor that he loved so much. It also is a tribute to his work with both the Red Cross and refugees. And the mood just seems right.