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RIP Maestro

September 6, 2007

Coming from a large family of opera and classical music lovers, I’ve naturally shunned the genre, thinking it boring and stuffy; pompous and proud – and the kind of thing people who don’t understand my generation (but like to talk about us a lot) listen to. It’s not often my opinions are swayed, but thanks to Ant Howell, my first ever guest blogger, I’ve softened somewhat in my view.

Hearing of his death this morning, I didn’t really think much of it. Then I read Ant’s FaceBook blog and thought he was going a tad OTT. THEN I clicked on the YouTube link and became very moved. And when I read the comments at the bottom, during the climax of the song, I actually cried. Yes. The steely reserve of BM had broken. So well done Ant. I shall leave you with his excellent tribute…

“Gutted to wait up to the news that Pavarotti has died. He was one of those household names that you don’t expect to just suddenly die. Even though I knew he was ill, it still seems sudden for such a man. If the world had any sense (which I’m willing to bet it doesn’t) then he would be mourned with ten times the intensity of his one-time friend Princess Diana.

This is a real loss. You’ll be telling your kids or grand-kids that you were there during the lifetime of Luciano Pavarotti; that you were privileged to share a few years alive on the same planet with this legend.

The man who is synonymous with opera is not just the popular face of an elitist, impenetrable art form. He was respected by those within his profession, regular opera-goers, and complete novices alike. Not only that, he would have been revered had he been born and lived in any century from the16th onwards. How many performers can you say that of in the world of the arts?

The news bulletins are of course banging on his famous rendition of Nessun Dorma, but if you really want to understand the man’s greatness, listen to this:

It is him singing an aria from Donizetti’s opera La Fille du Regiment (1840) at New York’s Metropolitan Opera house in 1972. In this performance, he manages to hit 9 high Cs with perfect pitch – the first tenor ever to accomplish this feat in a live performance. He achieved a record 17 curtain calls and the longest standing ovation in living memory. Even if you know nothing about music – even if you don’t like opera – you won’t need anyone to tell you which notes are the high Cs. Just the most magical sound imaginable.”

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