Thursday, September 6, 2007
Today we say goodbye to a great cook, a gavone (gourmand) of titanic gustatory and carnal appetites, and a brilliant artist and singer who has certainly earned the immortal status that his name and music will now enjoy. Luciano Pavarotti was a true hunger artist who served much better fare than he ever took for himself and will remain a role model for all of us who aspire to give back something of what we take from the table for other's to enjoy.
I remember the first time I saw him perform at the Metropolitan Opera in Giuseppe Verdi's Luisa Miller, in 1991. For most of the first two acts, Maestro Pavarotti as Rodolfo was unimaginably wooden and appeared to be holding back his voice, which I knew was capable of rendering the most arrogant men into wailing babies.
If I had not gotten the tickets from my brother (who still works there as an electrician) I know that I would have been really angry and made a show of asking for my money back. Actually, I doubt I would have even gone in the first place, because even though I love opera, this particular opera held no interest for me at all. Add to this the fact that I had been primed by stories of Pavarotti's primo don hissy fits, last minute cancellations and other stories of his bad behavior, that I'm sure that if I knew I could get away with it, I'd have gone up onto the stage during the first act and pulled his buttons to wake him up.
But then, near the end of Act II, Pavarotti cut loose on the aria "Quando le sere al placido," and I thought I'd die in my seat. I don't have a vocabulary that is up to the task of explaining how magnificent he was. The audience went wild, I went wild. It was as if all of a sudden this ridiculously overweight and lazy old man who had been pretending to be a teenaged lover had suddenly revealed himself to be Dionysis. And that voice, O Jesus, I had never heard anything like it.
Anyway, I'm too sad right now to write much more, but I will add this. Please don't think for a second that Luciano Pavarotti, the real Lucianno Pavarotti was anything like the man who sang Christmas carols on TV or whose principal claim to fame seemed at times to be his contribution to bringing opera tenor-ship to the masses.
The real Pavarotti, the essential Pavarotti was something profound and frightening, a monster of art who really did have the ability to turn arrogant sons of bitches like me into wailing babies.
Ciao Maestro, you are gone and my grief is complete.
ANSA.it - News in English - Pavarotti dead at 71