As I write this, it's been well more than a day since news came of the death of Luciano Pavarotti. His passing might have been no more than a blip on the screen of my consciousness were it not for the fact that my older son is an operatic tenor. I believe my younger son could have gotten there as well, but he opted for writing over singing. Which he is better at, I don't know. He excels at both.
Prior to my sons' involvement with operatic music, I was barely aware of it. I have some ability and history singing myself, but not on any serious level. While I won't claim to be a dyed-in-the-wool opera buff, I have, over the last several years, become better schooled in and more appreciative of it. I have a much greater understanding of the difficulties of singing at that level. Of course, one must have "the gift" of an adequate instrument, but one must also work extremely hard over a long period of time to achieve any level of success. My older son will be 29 years old in a week or so, and only now is his voice reaching its maturity.
To watch Pavarotti sing, one would think that it is easy, as he made it seem effortless. Of course there are many great tenors out there. Perhaps my son will one day be counted amongst them, I don't know. But Pavarotti had "the voice." Domingo, Carreras, and others were and are great in their own right. But Pavarotti touched a nerve that transcended the sometimes insular world of opera. He was criticized soundly by many for "crossing over" into other genres which many considered shameless pandering for fame and money. Even the "Three Tenors" concerts were frowned upon by purists.
But I would suggest, as others have, that Pavarotti's forays into pop, even rock and country, perhaps brought people to opera and classical music who otherwise would have remained blissfully unaware of it. And, remember Placido Domingo "crossed over" as well. Remember his duet with John Denver, "Perhaps Love"?
I have listened to some truly great recordings of Pavarotti's over the last day or so. Should you be uninitiated but curious, or if you would enjoy revisiting some great singing, then give a listen. You’ll be glad you did.
You can read more about Luciano Pavarotti at NPR’s website.