Luciano Pavarotti, who died on 6 September, 2007 aged 71, was not merely the world’s most famous and best-loved tenor but a man whose charisma and sheer vocal talent won a new audience for opera.
Making his debut in 1961, his place among the great operatic performers was already assured by the mid-70s following a string of memorable roles.
But his fame broadened dramatically following his rendition of the Italian aria ‘Nessun Dorma’ as the theme tune for the BBC’s 1990 World Cup coverage, and his “Three Tenors” concerts alongside Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras.
His death from pancreatic cancer brings to an end an illustrious career, but his unforgettable voice will live on in his numerous recordings.
Luicano Pavarotti was born on 12 October 1935 in Modena, Italy. He was the first child, and only son of a baker. As a young boy he spent time playing football with friends and made several appearances as a winger for Modena FC.
His father’s love of singing and his appreciation for Italian opera inspired Luciano to become a singer and in his teens he took a deeper interest in the genre.
As a teenager, Pavarotti took a trip to Wales with his father as part of the Gioachino Rossi town chorus. The groups’ notable performance won them first prize in the Llangollen international singing competition.
Although his first ambition had been to become a teacher, Pavarotti soon began training for a classical singing career, working with highly-regarded tutors Arrigo Pola and Ettore Campogalliani.
He made his operatic debut on 29 April 1961 after securing a starring role as Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème. His opening success was rewarded with engagements across the world including Covent Garden, London.
The 1960s was a busy time and in 1965 he made his American debut alongside soprano Joan Sutherland in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor in Miami. Ms Sutherland was a great supporter of Pavarotti during his early performances as they travelled around together on tour.
Pavarotti returned to the role of Rodolfo for his debut at the grand La Scala opera house in Milan, in 1965.
In 1972, a New York audience was treated to Pavarotti’s finest performance of his young career, when he managed to sing nine effortless high Cs, during the French opera La Fille du Regiment, to rapturous applause.
Then, in 1990, came worldwide fame as, on the eve of the World Cup Final in front of a sell out crowd in Rome, he performed with close friends Domingo and Carreras in a ‘Three Tenors’ concert.
The performance and particularly Nessun Dorma’s success saw his album ‘The Essential Pavarotti’ become the first ever classical album to reach number one in the UK pop charts.
Over the next twelve years Pavarotti would sing at four further World Cup Finals while he also helped bring the curtain up on the 2006 Winter Olympics event with another rousing rendition of Nessun Dorma.
It was to be his last public appearance before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2006.