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Monday, September 10, 2007

Nessun Dorma, Except One

Well, I've been away with a rather consistent dizziness and vertigo. Fortunately, the vertigo was not accompanied by the staircases of large Spanish-era missions or vague, bleached-blondes with oversized busts and obvious IQ deficiencies. What James Stewart's character saw in Kim Novak's in that film, I'll never know.1

I've been blessed so far though in that this particular vertigo has not signified anything terminal. Luciano Pavarotti was not so lucky, although to be fair, the poor chap was at the receiving end of a foul case of cancer and not vertigo. I've not experienced the former but I know enough to realise that the two really aren't comparable.

Pavarotti had one of the most remarkable voices in the recorded history of music. It was the kind of voice that could make people weep and shatter bulletproof glass at the same time. His signature tune was the aria "Nessun Dorma"2 from Giancomo Puccini's Turandot. He delivered this again and again in his soaring, high, powerful tenor, thrilling crowds around the world, along with his business manager and accountant. Despite his rotund frame, the most obvious hair-dye job since Ronald Reagan, and a bland, if pleasant personality3, he became a world star in music. All because of that lorry-stopping, ethereal, Tyrannosaurus of a voice.

Like many celebrities, he sadly ditched his first wife for a bubble-headed trophy bird, but even this seem to be excused by his most ardent fans as opera crossing over into life. Which just goes to show that opera and soap opera have more in common than the one word and the poor blocking.

His one film, Yes, Giorgio was noted for Pavarotti's complete and utter inability to act, something that put him on a par with Bob Dylan and Madonna4. Apparently though, opera critics claimed that this deficiency was typical of his on-stage performances as well. Audiences didn't give a biscuit. "Just sing, Luciano," was the only request they had, and Luciano responded, cracking plaster and flattening car tyres in the process. Gloriously, of course.

He'll be missed. For one thing, who'll fill out the Three Tenors at World Cup Finals, now? Justin Timberlake? I bloody well don't think so.

1. Besides the oversized bust, I mean
2. "None Shall Sleep" is a fair translation, although the literal one at Babel Fish Translation is "no sleeps," which just happens to be how Pavarotti might have said it in English.
3. A bit reminiscent of Fred Rogers, only louder and less wholesome
4. Strangely enough though, Art Garfunkel is up on the three of them in this department.


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