Tenor who redefined opera dies

Joshua Kosman

Joshua Kosman

Luciano Pavarotti, pictured, whose glorious, unforced tenor and gusto as a performer helped redefine tenor stardom at a levelscarcely seen since Enrico Caruso, died on Wednesday at his home in Modena, Italy, after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 71.

Pavarotti had been in poor health since undergoing emergency cancer surgery in July 2006, after which he cancelled all his remaining engagements for the year. He was hospitalised in August for a series of tests, and was released.

He was one of the great natural operatic talents of thelatter half of the 20th century. He boasted a bright, ringing tonewith high notes that could sound with effortless clarity. Therewas a ripe, sensual beauty to his singing that penetrated theheart.

Although he rarely ventured outside the Italian repertoire,Pavarotti brought a full measure of emotional ardour and lyricalgrace to the music he championed. His phrasing was fluid andarticulate, with an eloquence that illuminated even the most technically challenging music.

Pavarotti was never an especially committed actor, and in hislater years, when his lifelong struggle with weight had hampered his mobility, his stage performances were often perfunctory.

But from a purely musical perspective, his accounts of some of his signature roles - in operas by Verdi, Puccini and Donizetti above all - defined those roles for an entire generation of singers and audiences.

"He was a unique artist," said former San Francisco OperaGeneral Director Lotfi Mansouri, who worked extensively withPavarotti throughout his career.

His appearance during the 1990 World Cup, singing Nessundorma from Puccini's Turandot, made him the equivalent of aninternational pop star. His high-profile appearances withPlacido Domingo and Jose Carreras as The Three Tenors, brought him huge new audiences.

Pavarotti was born on October 12 1935, in Modena, Italy, the sonof working-class music-lovers. A childhood friend was the sopranoMirella Freni, whose mother worked with the Pavarottis in the same factory.

Pavarotti recorded voluminously, compiling a discography that according to his official website extended to 110 discs.

Pavarotti is survived by his wife Nicoletta Mantovani, four daughters and a granddaughter.