Opera Star Luciano Pavarotti poses for a portrait session in 1998.
Opera Star Luciano Pavarotti poses for a portrait session in 1998. VenturelliPhoto by Daniele Ventu

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Luciano Pavarotti

12/10/1935 - 06/09/2007 (Died aged 71).

"I'm not a politician, I'm a musician. I care about giving people a place where they can go to enjoy themselves and to begin to live again. To the man you have to give the spirit, and when you give him the spirit, you have done everything.”

1935: Luciano Pavarotti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI was born on the outskirts of Modena in Northern Italy. He is an Italian operatic tenor who also crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time. He made numerous recordings of complete operas and individual arias, gaining worldwide fame for the quality of his tone, and eventually established himself as one of the finest tenors of the 20th century.

1943: World War II forced the family out of the city. For the following year they rented a single room from a farmer in the neighbouring countryside, where the young Pavarotti developed an interest in farming.

1954: Pavarotti began the serious study of music at the age of 19 with Arrigo Pola, a respected teacher and professional tenor in Modena who offered to teach him without remuneration. According to conductor Richard Bonynge, Pavarotti never learned to read music. After abandoning the dream of becoming a football goalkeeper, Pavarotti spent seven years in vocal training.

1955: He experienced his first singing success when he was a member of the Corale Rossini, a male voice choir from Modena that also included his father, which won first prize at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales.

1961: Pavarotti married Adua Veroni. He began his career as a tenor in smaller regional Italian opera houses, making his debut as Rodolfo in La bohème at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia.

1963: An early coup involved his connection with Joan Sutherland (and her conductor husband, Richard Bonynge), who had sought a young tenor taller than herself to take along on her tour to Australia.

1972: His major breakthrough in the United States came in a production of La fille du régiment at New York's Metropolitan Opera, in which he drove the crowd into a frenzy with his nine effortless high Cs in the signature aria. He achieved a record seventeen curtain calls.

1978: He appeared in a solo recital on Live from Lincoln Center.

1980s: Pavarotti returned to two opera houses that had provided him with important breakthroughs, the Vienna State Opera and La Scala.

1990: Pavarotti became even better known throughout the world when his rendition of the aria "Nessun dorma” from Giacomo Puccini's Turandot was taken as the theme song of BBC's TV coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.

1993: More than 500,000 listeners gathered for his free performance on the Great Lawn of New York's Central Park, while millions more around the world watched on television. The following September, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, he sang for an estimated crowd of 300,000.

1998: He became the first (and, to date, only) opera singer to perform on Saturday Night Live, singing alongside Vanessa L. Williams. He was appointed the United Nations Messenger of Peace, using his fame to raise awareness of UN issues, including the Millennium Development Goals, HIV/AIDS, child rights, urban slums and poverty. He was also presented with the Grammy Legend Award.

2001: Pavarotti received the Nansen Medal from the UN High Commission for Refugees for his efforts raising money on behalf of refugees worldwide.

2003: He married his former personal assistant, Nicoletta Mantovani (born 1969), with whom he already had a daughter, Alice. Alice's twin brother, Riccardo, was stillborn after complications. Pavarotti is also survived by three other daughters by his first wife Adua, to whom he was married for 34 years: Lorenza, Cristina, and Giuliana. At the time of his death, he had one granddaughter.

2004: Pavarotti began his farewell tour at the age of 69, performing one last time in old and new locations, after more than four decades on the stage. On March 13, Pavarotti gave his last performance in an opera at the New York Metropolitan Opera, for which he received a long standing ovation for his role as the painter Mario Cavaradossi in Giacomo Puccini's Tosca. On December 1, he announced a 40-city farewell tour.

2005: In March, Pavarotti underwent neck surgery to repair two vertebrae. His last full-scale performance was at the end of a two-month Australasian tour in Taiwan in December of that year.

2006: In February, Pavarotti sang "Nessun dorma” at the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Turin, Italy. He underwent further back surgery and contracted an infection while in the hospital in New York, forcing cancellation of concerts in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July. The tenor fought back against the implications of this diagnosis, undergoing major abdominal surgery and making plans for the resumption and conclusion of his singing commitments.

2007: He died at his home in Modena from pancreatic cancer on September 6.

Diana, Princess of Wales with Luciano Pavarotti.
Diana, Princess of Wales with Luciano Pavarotti.


He was a close friend of Diana, Princess of Wales. They raised money for the elimination of land mines worldwide. He was invited to sing at her funeral service, but declined to sing, as he felt he could not sing well "with his grief in his throat”. Nonetheless, he attended the service.

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