I don't like saying good-bye to fantastic opera singers: Even though there is a plethora of new talent waiting to assume the roles, there is something seriously aging about watching one's heroes leave the stage. So far this year, two big operatic names and talents have added their voices to the heavenly choruses (although my singer friends note that soloists make poor choristers): Beverly Sills and Luciano Pavarotti, the latter of whom died yesterday.
Here is a touching and fair obit:
I can't say that I was a great fan of Pavarotti's: He was too "tenor-ish" for me -- which I say even though, at one time, I was a tenor and I continue to adore the tenor voice. But my taste runs to the deeper qualities of a Placido Domingo (who, I think, is a genius; who began as a baritone, and who continues to sing beautifully). His voice was and is unmistakable, but it was always too shrill for me. (I also absolutely loathe "Irish tenors.")
Still, when I attended his recitals, as I was privileged to do two or three times, I couldn't deny the charisma of the man. He was a superstar, a commercial success, and an attractive ambassador for opera and lieder to those not-yet-acquainted with it. And I can't hear "Nessun Dorma" sung by anyone else without thinking, "If they can retire a baseball jersey, why can't they do so with an opera aria?" Pavarotti would get "Nessun" hands down. (I know: Callas could claim anything from Norma, Price gets "O, Patria Mia," and the like -- and the opera halls would fall silent.)
He wasn't the greatest human being, it seems. I was living in Chicago when Ardis Krainik announced the Pavarotti would no longer be scheduled for performances with the Lyric Opera in Chicago because of his unreliability. (I think I was to hear him in two operas while I had seasons there, and he failed to show for either -- and while I didn't much care, the seat-buying public was mostly incensed.) He also seems to have treated his (first) wife and family shabbily -- taking up late in life with something of a trophy wife.
So, Pavarotti was fun to make fun of and pretty good to listen to.
Rest eternal grant him, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him.