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Classical 101

'Pavarotti' Film From Ron Howard Premieres In June


When Luciano Pavarotti died in 2007, I cried. 

He wasn’t a relative. My name would have meant nothing to him. I had seen him many times, but from a great distance, usually from standing room at the top of the Met in New York.

I didn’t cry as much when Melon the cat finally went to heaven at the age of 18 (and I loved Melon), but Pavarotti’s death put me away. For a while.


The tenor's voice hit you in the heart, in the solar plexus, in the brain – wherever there were muscles with which to feel on your body. Yes, the critics likened his sound to “Neapolitan sunshine.”

I’ve never been to Naples, so I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that I was in love with that sound, and I was far from alone.

Ron Howard has made a new film on Pavarotti’s life. Here’s a glimpse:

Yes, I cried when I saw this trailer for the first time.

Pavarotti will be released in June. CBS won a bidding war for the broadcast rights. If Howard had been tempted to do a biopic with actors, he reasoned correctly that nothing is better than the real thing.

You can make films about Maria Callas with actresses dubbing her voice. It’s been done, a lot. Callas is distant. She has the element of what the Italians call terribilita.

Pavarotti, who died 12 years ago, is still very much loved today. You love his voice, and his voice loves you back.

The press went to town in Pavarotti’s last days. He had left a long marriage to take up with a much younger woman. She had given birth to two twins, a boy and a girl. The boy died after a few hours.

Pavarotti was struggling with physical infirmities. His last performances were considered pathetic. They were not. His voice was unimpaired.

The new wife was bored. The money was gone. Real estate and artwork in Paris, Monte Carlo, New York and Milan were being liquidated, allegramente. The great days were over.

It may not have been Naples, but let me tell you – the sun was shining in Boston and New York every time I heard that man sing.

Pass the tissues.

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.
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