Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Obituary : Luciano Pavarotti

Last Thursday we experienced the loss of one of the greatest operatic tenors of our time, Maestro Luciano Pavarotti.

Here was a man, the stuff living legends are made of.

I've never written an obituary before, simply because I haven't had to opportunity (or misfortune, however you see it) to write one. But truly, I see it fit that I pay tribute to Mr. Pavarotti and the accomplishments that were his life. As a kid, my mum would oft tell me of the great Three Tenors, no other than Pavarotti, Carreras and Domingo. I didn't think much of them then, save for a sort of far-off awe with which we regard dignitaries such as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

His music reached far beyond the usual opera audience, and I cite myself as an example. Honestly, I can't really stand all the glass-shattering pitches sopranos are able to reach and loud 'Aaaaaaaaaaaa!'s which characterize opera. But then I stumbled upon a grainy video on YouTube, showing Pavarotti belting out Puccini's Nessun Dorma, I became absolutely infatuated with the it and the man, and had it on replay loops in my head. I really couldn't help but continue browsing for more videos of the Maestro. His collaborations with James Brown, Bono and Sting? Explosive. As Bono aptly put it:

'He was a volcano of a man, who sang fire'.

And when I saw the headline on Thursday 'Pavarotti Dies at 71', I quietly mourned for the great man. I never knew him personally, and neither did the millions of fans and well-wishers who grieve this loss. Pavarotti was constantly positive about his condition, and confident he would recover from it eventually. Although he never did, we are exhorted by his personality, which was as large as the man himself. From the aria Nessun Dorma, he sings 'Al'alba vincero! Vincero! Vincero!' in a climatic crescendo. It translates to 'At dawn we shall be victorious!'. Fitting, for a man who battled against his ailment for years.

You can watch his final performance at the 2006 Torino Winter Games here.

Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o, Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che fremono d'amore
e di speranza.

Ma il mio mistero e chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun sapra!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo diro
quando la luce splendera!

Ed il mio bacio sciogliera il silenzio
che ti fa mia!

(Il nome suo nessun sapra!...
e noi dovrem, ahime, morir!)

Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincero!
vincero, vincero!

None must sleep! None must sleep!
And you, too, Princess,
in your cold room,
gaze at the stars
which tremble with love
and hope!

But my mystery is locked within me,
no-one shall know my name!
No, no, I shall say it as my mouth
meets yours when the dawn is breaking!

And my kiss will break the silence
which makes you mine!

(No-one shall know his name,
and we, alas, shall die!)

Vanish, o night!
Fade, stars!
At dawn I shall be victorious!

Adieu, Maestro.

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