Friday, September 07, 2007

Farewell, Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti has died of pancreas cancer.

I'm not a rabid fan of opera in any sense but I do like to listen to it once in a while. It's more the singers than the actual operas that attract me. I've enjoyed (but don't own any of, regrettably) old recordings of Caruso from the early 1900's, and even through those crackly, hissing, analog vinyl discs you can feel the emotion he could transmit to the audience.

Most other singers don't really connect on a basic, visceral level like that -- at least not for me. They may display technical prowess or have an excellent voice. But Pavarotti could connect with a vengeance. It wasn't as though he was performing; it was as though he was exploding -- engulfing the audience, washing over us like a tsunami.

My favorite performance of his is Nessun Dorma. The first time I heard it -- on a summer vacation from college as I rifled my dad's collection -- I had no idea what the opera it came from was about. It was 2:00 in the morning, he had a new sound system, and I wanted to see what it could do. Almost idly I popped a CD of arias into his player.

And then I heard this overwhelm and melt down his high-end headphones.

So long Pavarotti. You were a phenomenon.

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