Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pavarotti, A life in Seven Arias

The seven arias are:

1. “Che gelida manina” from Puccini’s La Boheme. I was present in the audience when this particular clip was being filmed. Pavarotti's first big splash at the Royal Opera was in this opera.



2. “Pour Mon Ame” from Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment. This section shows both Pavarotti and Juan Diego Florez singing the aria with the 9 high C's. Both are awesome. This section of the film is about his relationship with Joan Sutherland. He credits her with teaching him how to support properly. The sound comes from God and from his fabulous resonance.




3. "Panis Angelicus" by Franck. This is a religious song and not an opera aria. In this section his youth with his father is explored. The aria is sung in canon with his father taking the lead. In this clip he sings with Sting. Watch it if you can.


4. "Questa o quella" from Verdi's Rigoletto. This section includes film of Florez discussing Pavarotti's technique. Great stuff.



5. "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's Turandot. I like this version from 1980. Featured on the program was the version from the first three tenors concert, generally the subject of the segment. It began the Pavarotti as pop star portion of his life.


6. "E lucevan le stelle" from Puccini's Tosca. This aria was part of his last performance on any opera stage which took place at the Metropolitan. The film shows him walking with men on both sides to support him.


7. "Ingemisco" from the Verdi Requiem. It's as though he were singing for his own funeral. This clip, with Karajan, is the one shown in the film.



I fast forwarded through the Sting stuff. I have no interest in the Pavarotti as pop star phase, though I hesitate to criticize because lots of people first heard of opera there. I prefer the serious part of his career.

Florez says, "His technique was based on the vowels." I agree. If you can have a low larynx, open pharynx and bright, open vowels like Pavarotti, you might sound pretty good.

He started at the top--above the top. There are Caruso and Pavarotti.

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