NPR contributor Tom Huizenga recently wrote a great review on their blog on Ron Howard’s recent “Pavarotti” documentary, titled after one of the largest voices, and personalities, in the opera world.
Although Luciano Pavarotti passed almost 12 years ago, the Italian opera tenor left a lasting impact on the operatic world, crossing over into popular music, and eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time.
Huizenga writes on the shortcomings of the documentary, but also how it succeeds.
The real Pavarotti was a man of many paradoxes, an artist blessed with an enormous gift which in turn saddled him with immense responsibilities he often found impossible to fulfill. Upholding the standards of a 400-year-old operatic tradition is stressful enough, but doing it when you have become one of the most recognizable people on the planet adds another dimension of stress. Not to mention the tsunami of money that came rolling in, especially after the of popularity of “The Three Tenors.”
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What the film emphasizes, with success, is the childlike side of Pavarotti’s winning personality. With a beaming smile, good cheer and witty rejoinders, the tenor won friends easily and could seemingly charm the pants off almost anyone. And apparently he succeeded, with any number of “secretaries” and girlfriends, all while married to his long-suffering wife Adua. But that’s another story largely left untold. Pavarotti finally got his wish when his divorce from Adua was finalized in 2002. She gets one of the best lines in the movie: “He got used to having everything. If he asked for chicken’s milk, they would have probably milked a chicken.”
You can read Huizenga’s entire review here.
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