Italian Tenor Luciano Pavarotti Has Died


ROME (AP) -- He was a singer whose exquisite voice made him a legend in life.  Luciano Pavarotti died Thursday morning at his home in Modena, Italy.  He was 71.

A statement from his manager says, "The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life."  It says Pavarotti remained positive to the end, in keeping with the approach that characterized his life and his work.

With a voice praised for its unforced beauty and thrilling urgency, the tenor first achieved stardom in the 1960s and 70s, and helped broaden opera's traditional audience beyond its "high-brow" image.  Pavarotti, whose singing partners ranged from tenor Placido Domingo to the Spice Girls, scoffed at accusations that he was sacrificing his art in favour of commercialism.

Known around the world, Pavarotti was the incomparable tenor of his times to opera buffs and a celebrity who captivated millions.  "Pavarotti is the biggest superstar of all," the late New York Times music critic Harold Schonberg once said.  "He's correspondingly more spoiled than anybody else.  They think they can get away with anything.  Thanks to the glory of his voice, he probably can."

In his heyday, he was known as the "King of the High C's" for the ease with which he hit difficult top notes, and he turned "Nessun dorma," an aria from Puccini's "Turandot," into a universally recognized signature piece.

Colleagues are remembering Pavarotti's greatness.  The Vienna State Opera has raised a black flag in mourning.  Newscasts around the world flashed word of his death.  Radio stations are airing his iconic recordings in tribute.

Conductor Zubin Mehta directed Pavarotti in Rome and Los Angeles for the legendary "Three Tenors concerts," and he says the whole world will be listening to his voice today.

Another of those tenors, Placido Domingo, says Pavarotti's voice had "God-given glory."  The third of the tenors, Spain's Jose Carreras, says he'll remember Pavarotti as a man of "wonderful charismatic personality," a "very good friend," and, quote, "a great poker player."

Posted by AEB

The Associated Press and the CBS Television Network contributed to this report.