Pavarotti Is Dead

Mr. Luciano Pavarotti, opera singer, has died, at the age of 71. I was surprised by my reaction. His death has moved me a great deal this morning. As time passes, such iconic public figures embed themselves in our memories, in the weave of our own lives and experiences.

Pavarotti was a great pop star, as significant as any other in the 1990s, reaching, literally, via TV, live performance, and hugely popular recordings, billions of fans and casual listeners won over by his apparently effortless command of operatic bravado. He performed with the two other tenors of his time, as The Three Tenors, The Muppets and U2. His singing of Nessun Dorma became the theme of the World Cup. Sadly, this rendition has become every lowbrow's high-culture touchstone - but that doesn't make it any less magnificent. As far as high passion and superb operatic performance goes, this must be a benchmark.

But Pavarotti was also an artist, and a performer of something close to genius (if not for music, then for spectacle). Long ago, his name eclipsed that of Caruso's. He will be missed.
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