Italian opera star Luciano Pavarotti has died at his home in Modena, Italy, the singer’s manager said. The legendary tenor, who was among the world’s most celebrated and beloved singers, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006. He was 71 years old.
At his side were his wife, Nicoletta; his daughters, Lorenza, Cristina, Giuliana and Alice; his sister, Gabriela; his nephews and close relatives and friends, according to a statement issued by his manager, Terri Robson.
His last public performance, singing the aria from Puccini’s opera “Turandot,” Nessun Dorma, was at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in February 2006 and his last full-scale concert was in Taipei in December 2005. In the months preceding this, he had given Worldwide Farewell Concerts in Central and South America, the USA, Spain, France, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Japan, China, Russia, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, according to Robson’s statement.
He had such outsized talent, his appeal reached far beyond opera lovers. “Luciano Pavarotti is the Babe Ruth of the Opera World,” Joseph Volpe, Pavarotti’s longtime friend and former General Manager of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, told ABC News before the singer’s death. “There isn’t anywhere Luciano wouldn’t be recognized — incredible charisma, smile — and his sense of humor!”
Volpe also knew that Pavarotti’s magic with the crowds was great business: “People would pay the high price for an entire season’s series of 10 operas just to hear Pavarotti in one of them,” he remembered.
If opera is all about the emotions made supreme, Pavarotti was a master, and his was voice the ultimate instrument for it, Volpe explained, recalling the raptures he and thousands of other opera lovers felt. “The warmth of his voice, it was kind of like being out on a beautiful summer day. You feel this warmth, you feel relaxed, feel this is what life’s about,” he said.
If opera is all about the drama and the tragi-comedy of life, the very image of Pavarotti was all about that too — and very Italian.
He loved to eat, loved to gather a giant table of family and friends, and really loved to sing.