Friday, September 14, 2007


It's been a long time since my last post, I know, but I've been extremely busy with work and a few hectic weekends - some of them away from home. On the writing front, I've also been snowed under, polishing my latest manuscript for submission.

But though I haven't really got time to post, I just couldn't let the passing of a giant go by without acknowledgment.

Luciano Pavarotti, the golden voice of opera, died last week. There aren't many performers who could carry the label of having the greatest voice of their genre. Pavarotti is such a star. I don't think anybody could argue there has been a better tenor. Ever. The power and finesse of his voice is unsurpassed, and all over the world, music legends have for years been paying their respects, as well as lining up for a chance to become immortal by singing alongside him.

I have many old VHS tapes of Pavarotti concerts, including the first (and best) of the Three Tenors performances. One of these concerts is, 'Pavarotti in Hyde Park', performed in front of Charles and Diana. What made this concert stand out from many others just like it, wasn't so much what took place on stage, but the weather. About half way through the show, the sky opened up with a great deluge, turning the the audience - including Charles and Di - into drowned rats.

In spite of that, Pavarotti's divine voice held the audience captive, and nobody left their seats. Diana and Charles appeared enthralled, while becoming more sodden by the minute. After the show, the members of the orchestra and Pavarotti lined up backstage for the traditional royal 'meet and greet'. The image of a completely soaked Diana, her hair plastered to her skull, but nevertheless glowing in the presence of the great Luciano, is powerful and enduring.

Back in 1993, I sat in the audience of Pavarotti's concert in Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena. I'll never forget his incredible performance, and the energy radiating from the crowd. It was as if we all knew we were part of history, that night. He saved his signature aria, 'Nessun Dorma', for last, and it gained him a standing ovation. The applause was deafening, and I thought my hands would fall off from so much clapping. What a thrill to see him live, and only a few rows from the front.

Every star in the music world sang with Pavarotti if they were lucky enough to get the chance. I've seen the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Bono, James Brown, Meat Loaf and Queen - among others - take up the microphone. But the clip I've chosen for this blog is of Pavarotti singing alongside the Spice Girls. Never my favourite band, that girly bunch, yet this unlikely coupling works. The mix of feminine voices contrast with Luciano's reverberating tenor surprisingly well. This collaboration also highlights what a versatile performer Paravotti was, and demonstrates what was probably his greatest achievement: making opera accessible to the masses and creating a whole new generation of fans.

Thank you Luciano. The world loves you and will always miss you.

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