Opera is not something I listen to, but whenever I have done so it has cast a spell. As a youngster I would try and mimic the style – wide open mouth stretching an aching moment to an eternal longing. I would have tears in my eyes just from the effort. I believe I did a good job of the imitation. Somewhere along, the emotions, in a language I did not understand, did touch me. The way Chaplin in the silent movies does.
It would be disingenuous to compare, but at times some of the singing appears like an alaap that extends right into the body of the raag in Indian classical music. Aficionados will beat me up, but my amateur understanding begs to be permitted the licence of flawed interpretation.
There will be several befitting obits and it would be a learning experience. He was a star, and fortunately in his case one has not heard anyone complaining about dumbing down despite it being the easiest thing to do. His showmanship was a part of his persona, not an acquired trait, though in The King and I, his biographers do refer to the story behind the use of the white handkerchief which started out due to a cold he suffered from. As Herbert Breslin wrote, "Working with opera singers is a recipe for nervous collapse. The more carefully you make your plans, the more likely it is they'll get sick when the big night rolls around." Later, the hanky was used to wave at the crowd, for emphasis in a song, or as a hiding place for throat lozenges.
I smile. Luciano did that all the time.
RIP: Rock In
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Picture: ‘L'Elisir d'Amore’ ("The Elixir of Love") with Pavarotti in the role of Nemorino
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Ave Maria Prayer : Music by Franz Schubert. One of Pavarotti's notable performances.
Ave Maria! Ave Maria! maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden's prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild,
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish'd, outcast and reviled -
Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem this down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Ave Maria! stainless styled!
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair.
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
The original words in Latin:
Ave Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus fructus ventris
Ventris tui Jesus
Ave Maria Mater dei
Ora pro nobis pecatoribus
Ora, ora pro nobis
Ora ora pro nobis pecatoribus
Nunc et in hora mortis
In hora mortis, mortis nostrae
In hora mortis nostrae