Luciano Pavarotti, Tenor

The online opera guide on Luciano Pavarotti

Read the short biography of Luciano Pavarotti and listen to highlights of his career.  Pavarotti was one of the greatest tenors of the second half of the 20th century.


Childhood and Family

Luciano Pavarotti was born in 1935 in Modena and had a poor family background. He has been working as a teacher for several years. He inherited his musical talent from his father, who sang as a tenor in his spare time. Luciano Pavarotti was married twice and had three daughters with his first wife and twins with his second wife at the age of 67, one of the children died in childbirth.



After studying in Mantua, he made his debut in 1961 as Rodolfo. This was quickly followed by appearances in international opera houses. In 1965 he began working with Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge on a tour of Australia.

Non piu nozze (La Sonnambula)  –  Pavarotti / Sutherland


The following years brought various complete recordings with operas from the Belcanto repertoire. He became a superstar with his high C’s in the performance of Donizetti’s “Fille du Regiment” at the Met.

Ah mes amis (fille du régiment) – Pavarotti


From about the middle of the seventies his recording and performing activities expanded to more dramatic roles in Verdi’s and Puccini’s operas.


More and more Pavarotti shifted his performances to solo concerts. For example, he sang in 1993 in New York’s Central Park in front of 500,000 spectators.

Nessun dorma (Turandot) – Pavarotti (Central Park)


A highlight was the concert of the three tenors in the Roman thermal baths on the occasion of the Football World Cup in 1990, which was followed live by about one billion people.  Together with Maria Callas, Pavarotti was the best seller among the classical singers.

O Sole mio  –  Pavarotti / Carreras / Domingo



In 2006 Luciano Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died of kidney failure in 2007.



Pavarotti was one of the greatest tenors of the second half of the 20th century. Pavarotti has repeatedly pointed out that he studied the old masters like Caruso, Schipa, Pertile etc. intensively. Among his best recordings and roles are “La fille du Regiment”, “Bohème” and “Turandot”.


More highlights of Pavarottis recordings


A beautiful recording of Pavarotti from 1968. He sings a spectacular High C in this famous Aria from Il Trovatore. In later years he too occasionally chose the Bb.

Di quella pira


Especially worth listening to is the version of Recondita armonia from the opera TOSCA accompanied by piano, wonderfully played by James Levine.

Recondita armonia


The other famous Tenor aria from Tosca. Listen how beautiful he sings the “Svanì per sempre il sogno mio d’amore”.

E lucevan le stelle  –  Pavarotti


A wonderfully song from the last act of Lucia di Lammermoor

Tu che a Dio spiegasti  l’ali


And a beautifully shaped version by this cavatina of La traviata.

Lunge d lei…De’ miei bollenti spiriti


Listen to Luciano Pavarotti singing a lively «O mio Rimorso» with a high C at the end.

O mio rimorso


A famous Aria from Andrea Chénier.

Un di all azzuro


Chénier’s on trial. He defends himself with a flaming speech. He was a soldier whose weapon was the feather. But nor this nor Gerard’s words help, he is sentenced to death. Listen to this piece in a great interpretation by Luciano Pavarotti.

Si fui soldato


Many experts consider Pavarotti to be the best Rodolfo in recording history. In the words of Kesting: “Poorly outstanding, also and especially acting, Pavarotti is presenting himself as Rodolfo under Karajan. It is one of the rare vocal portraits that makes the figure visible. In no other record- apart from La fille du régiment – has he sung more freely and relaxedly, in none with a richer palette of colours.”

Che gelida manina


A  duet from La Boheme interpretation from the great Karajan recording with Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni. By the way, Freni grew up in the same place as Pavarotti and is also a contemporary. The two have known each other since childhood and according to Pavarotti “she was his milk sister with whom he had already done everything except amore”.

O soave fanciulla  –  Pavarotti / Freni


Listen to the duet “Dunque è pro finita” from La Boheme with Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni, which develops into a beautiful quartet (“Addio, dolce svegliare”) with the quarreling couple Musetta / Marcello and finally loses itself again in the duet in eternity.

Dunque: è proprio finita!… Addio, dolce svegliare (1)  –  Pavarotti / Freni


Next, you will hear an exciting audio document of a master class that Pavarotti conducted on television in the seventies.

Vecchia zimarra, senti  –  Masterclass mit Pavarotti


In this Cavatina (a songlike aria) from Elisir d’amore, Donizetti draws a simple, thoughtful young man who is in love. In plain C major he sings his longing for the love of Adina. Only in “Essa legge, studia…” (She read, studies…) we hear a clouding to c minor, which could mean that Adina may be unattainable for Nemorino due to her education.

The role of Nemorino was one of Pavarotti’s absolute key roles In this role he celebrated real triumphs in many opera houses. The vocal part required a lyrical tenor and the role is written for a simple but mischievous scallywag, which was a perfect match for Luciano Pavarotti. The audience always offered him long ovations in this role. In 1988 he is said to have received an incredible 164 curtains in Berlin with the Elisir d’amore !

Quanto è bella, quanto è cara  – Pavarotti


In the first part of this duett  Adina sings about the impermanence of love. Donizetti lets Adina repeat the last word “infedel”. And the word becomes every time more capricious by the coloraturas. Then we hear a beautiful duet with Nemorino. We hear Kathleen Battle, a light coloratura soprano. She sings a very exquisite, noble Adina. In the duet you hear her togehter with Luciano Pavarotti.

Chiedi all’aura lusinghiera  –  Pavarotti / Battle


We hear the wonderful duet of Nemorino and Dulcamara from Elisir d’amore from a 1988 Met production. Enjoy the live recording of Pavarotti with Dara. Dara’s speciality was the speed singing which sounds great in combination with Pavarotti’s wonderful lyrical passages. This produces great pleasure for the listener.

Voglio dir…Obbligato – Pavarotti/d’Ara/Levine


Listen to another piece of Elisir d’amore together with Joan Sutherland from the Bonynge recording from 1970.

Dell elisir mirabile  –  Sutherland / Pavarotti


And the famous aria from Elisir.

Una furtiva lagrima 


The great aria “Dovunque al mondo” presents us Pinkerton as not unappealing but thoughtless Yankee. You hear this passage from Luciano Pavarotti in the recording with Karajan. The recording is expressive and electrifying.

Dovunque al mondo


Pavarotti with handkerchief and a moving yet sunny Adio fiorito asil.

Addio fiorito asil


Listen to the great interpretation of this Aria from Rigoletto in the Ponnelle film adaptation. His “Questa e quella” is elegant yet seductive.

Questa o quella


Listen to this aria in the 1971 recording of Pavarotti and Bonynge, where Pavarotti even sings the high D.

Possente amor mi chiama


The incomparable “la donna è mobile” by Pavarotti. With charm, lightness and elegance.

La donna è mobile


For Pavarotti this duet from Verdi’s ballo in maschera was the greatest duet in opera history, which can only be compared to the love duet from Tristan. Domingo also expressed himself with similar words, quoting the passage “irridiami d’amor” where the orchestra literally explodes  and all the ecstasy breaks out.

Teco io sto  –  Pavarotti / Arroyo


Besides Duca in Rigoletto, Riccardo was Pavarotti’s favourite role in the Verdi operas. Riccardos is perhaps Verdi’s tenor role with the broadest range of expression and colours.

Forse la soglia attinse… Ma se m’è forza perderti  –  Pavarotti


Pavarotti was perhaps the Canio that touched the general public the most.

Recitar…vesti la giubba


A special recording: A sound document of this aria from I Pagliacci with piano accompaniment.

O Colombina


Pavarotti became world-famous with this aria on the occasion of the soccer world championship in 1990 and he even landed at the top of the pop charts with his recording.

Nessun Dorma


Another piece from Turandot. An interpretation sung with “touching intimacy” (Kesting)

Non piangere Liu


We hear this scene from Turandot in the recording of Pavarotti and Sutherland, conducted by Zubin Mehta. Sutherland never played Turandot on stage. Nevertheless she convinces with its power in the high register. Pavarotti sings a heroic and yet noble Calaf.

Che e mai di me  –  Pavarotti/Sutherland


Pavarotti was perhaps the Canio that touched the general public the most.

Recitar…vesti la giubba


For Pavarotti this duet from “Un ballo in maschera” was the greatest duet in operatic history, which can only be compared to the love duet from Tristan. Domingo also expressed himself with similar words, quoting the passage “irridiami d’amor” where the orchestra literally explodes  and all the ecstasy breaks out.

Teco io sto  –  Pavarotti / Arroyo


Besides Duca in Rigoletto, Riccardo was Pavarotti’s favourite role in the Verdi operas. Riccardos is perhaps Verdi’s tenor role with the broadest range of expression and colours.

Forse la soglia attinse… Ma se m’è forza perderti


Pavarotti, immensely lyrical and revelling in “Thine is all my heart”. For an additional effect, Pavarotti, Domingo, Villazon and Co. occasionally end the aria with a high ace (instead of a des).

Tu m’hai preso il cor  –  Pavarotti


“Pour mon ame” is the most famous piece of the opera “la fille du régiment” and one of the most famous tenor arias ever. It deserves this mainly because it requires the singer to sing an incredible 9 high C’s in only 2 minutes. The challenge of the aria lies in the fact that the high C’s must be sung with a robust chest tone and clear intonation (it should be noted that the high C was possibly sung only with the falsetto at the time of composition. The tenor Duprez sang it for the first time in Rossini’s William Tell in 1837 in chest, the so-called “do in petto”, and established the Voice Fach of the heroic tenor). Jokingly the aria is also called “the Mount Everest of tenors”. It is estimated that in one tenor generation there are only a handful of tenors who can sing them really perfectly.

“La fille du regiment” from 1968 is one of the greatest recordings Pavarotti ever made. It was only his second complete recording of his then still young recording career. John Steane ( in “The grand tradition”), the influential critic speaks of one of the best tenor performances on record ever, sung with the finesse of the mature artist and the flourishing voice of the young man. The music journalist Edward Greenfield was present during the recording sessions and reported that this aria had to be sung several times before it was “in the can” and Pavarotti repeated and re-recorded this grueling act without slackening.

Pavarotti’s MET performances in 1972 have become legendary. He took the audience by storm with his aria and with the following tour through the United States he finally became a tenorissimo on the American continent and the globe. He got the nickname “King of the High C’s”.

Pour mon ame – Pavarotti


This aria is a cabinet piece from “Der Rosenkavalier”, but also dreaded. The line of the aria is demanding and the short piece does not allow him a second chance, so it is enormously exposed. The most famous interpretation is probably by Luciano Pavarotti.

Di rigori armato il seno – Pavarotti


A duet from Rossini’s “William Tell”. The dialogue develops into a beautiful and varied duet. In the second part Arnoldo repeatedly sings the beautiful cantilena “O ciel, tu sai se Matilde m’è cara”, which expresses his love for the princess and contrasts with Tell’s patriotic enthusiasm.

Arresta quali sguardi !  Où vas-tu? quel transport t’agite? –  Pavarotti/Milnes


Arnoldo’s lyrical aria in combination with the subsequent cabaletta is one of the most difficult tenor pieces in the opera repertoire. It begins with a short horn motif that represents the memory of Arnold’s youth. Only a few bars after the tenor’s entrance, he has to sing an exposed B flat with another one two bars later. Rossini composes the pain of farewell with a repeated increase of the phrase “J’appelle en vain” and the aria ends with a high C. It is continued with the notorious caballetta “Amis, amis, secondez ma vengeance” (“Corriam! Voliam! S’affretti lo scempio”), which is peppered with 6 more high C’s, some of which have to be held over one and a half bars to express the ecstasy of Arnoldo.

Pavarotti’s interpretation is dramatically drawn. The high notes are a bit forced, Pavarotti showed a big heart for taking on this role. However, he deliberately refrained from singing the role on stage, because he knew that his voice would be damaged if he had to sing it in a few day intervals one after the other.

O muto asil del pianto



Peter Lutz, opera-inside, the online opera guide on Luciano Pavarotti




10 replies
  1. Kay
    Kay says:

    Hi I just wanted to say thank you for all the information on Pavarotti it’s very beautiful and amazing I apsoluty loved him too bit’s and was very sad when he passed away it really upset me to the core well I send lots of love and hugs to his family xx xx 💜💜❤️❤️💙💙🌟🌟


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