Happy birthday Luciano Pavarotti!

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Luciano Pavarotti (October 12, 1935—September 6, 2007) was an Italian operatic tenor. He became perhaps the most commercially successful opera singer of the latter half of the 20th century. In addition to being world-renown in his craft, he also became a spokesman for peace and other humanitarian efforts, working with the UN, the Red Cross, and other organizations to raise money and awareness.

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Pavarotti was born near Modena, Italy to Fernando Pavarotti and Adele Venturi. His father was an amateur tenor, and Pavarotti began vocal lessons early on. He was influenced by some of the popular tenors of the day, including Beniamino Gigli, Giovanni Martinelli, Tito Schipa, Enrico Caruso, and Giuseppe Di Stefano. He studied singing with childhood friend Mirella Freni, who went on to become a star soprano in her own right.

When he was 20, Pavarotti traveled with a chorus to an international music competition and the group won first place.

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Though he initially wanted to be a soccer goalkeeper, his mother convinced him to train as a teacher. Before long, he abandoned his teaching ambitions to pursue his singing career.

A turning point in his career came when he developed a nodule on his vocal chords. He decided to leave singing, and he has alleged that the psychological relief of leaving his career not only healed the nodule, but improved his overall understanding of the art of singing.

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Pavarotti made his operatic debut as "Rodolfo" in La bohème in 1961 at Teatro Reggio Emilia. By 1963, he lived his dream when he stepped in for Giuseppe Di Stefano for the role of Rodolfo at the Royal Opera House in London.

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In 1965, Pavarotti traveled to the United States to appear alongside Joan Sutherland in Lucia di Lammermoor. They went on to sing 40 performances together over the next two months. Pavarotti credited Sutherland with endowing him with better technique, which he put to use throughout his career.

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Other notable performances included La bohème alongside Mirella Freni, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, I Lombardi, and La fille du régiment.

Though he was well-loved for his iconic Italian tenor style, he became known to many opera houses as "The King of Cancellations," for often backing out of performances.

Pavarotti is the only opera singer to have ever performed on the late night sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live.

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Pavarotti used his fame to raise money for many humanitarian efforts, and in 1998 was appointed United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Some of his awards include the Kennedy Center Honors, the Order of Cultural Merit from the Commander of Monaco, the Nansen Medal from the UN High Commission for Refugees, and many others.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 12 October 2014
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