Hero & Leander Opus 33 Victor Herbert
Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti was among the truly great opera stars of the 20th century. His career highlights included opera house performances, celebrity duets and The Three Tenors - a musical legacy that lives on through countless CDs and DVDs. Relive his life through this timeline of Pavarotti's greatest moments.
Born on 12 October 1935 in Modena, Italy, Luciano Pavarotti was the son of a baker and amateur tenor, and his wife - a cigar factory worker. Luciano's father Fernando had a fine tenor voice but rejected the possibility of a singing career because of nervousness. The young Luciano developed an interest in farming and football.
In 1955, Pavarotti experienced his first singing success when he was a member of the Corale Rossini, a male voice choir from Modena that also included his father, winning first prize at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen. He later said that this was the most important experience of his life, and that it inspired him to become a professional singer.
Pavarotti's career kicked off when he was cast as Rodolfo in Puccini's La Boheme, in a small regional Italian opera house - the Teatro Municipale, Reggio Emilia. He made his Royal Opera House debut in the same role in 1963 when he stood in for Giuseppe Di Stefano. Click below to hear Pavarotti's debut.
On 28 April 1965, Pavarotti made his La Scala debut in the revival of the Zeffirelli production of La bohème, with his childhood friend Mirella Freni singing Mimi and Herbert von Karajan conducting. Karajan had particularly asked for Pavarotti.
His first appearance in Donizetti's La fille du régiment took place at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 2 June 1965. It was his performances of this role that would earn him the title of "King of the High Cs". Seven years later at the New York Met he drove the crowd into a frenzy with his nine effortless high Cs in the opera's signature aria. He achieved a record 17 curtain calls. Click below to hear Pavarotti's effortless high notes.
Pavarotti began to give frequent television performances, starting with Rodolfo in La bohème for the first Live from the Met telecast in March 1977, which attracted one of the largest audiences ever for a televised opera.
In the mid-1980s, Pavarotti returned to two opera houses that had provided him with important breakthroughs, the Vienna State Opera and La Scala. Vienna saw Pavarotti play Radames in Aida conducted by Lorin Maazel.
1982 saw Pavarotti star in his one and only feature film, the romantic comedy Yes, Giorgio. The film was roundly panned by critics and flopped at the box office. Pavarotti is pictured here with his first wife Adua at a publicity event for the film's release. Click below to see a clip from Pavarotti's powerhouse acting debut.
Painting was one of Pavarotti's favourite hobbies. In 1986 he exhibited a collection of his own works in New York alongside many other artists from his native Modena. This one is entitled 'Portifino'.
In 1990 Pavarotti began a long love affair with the football World Cup. Not only was a recording of his version of Nessun Dorma used as the theme for the coverage, but he also began to perform alongside Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo as The Three Tenors. Click below to watch Pavarotti sing 'Nessun Dorma' at the 1990 World Cup.
In 1995, Pavarotti collaborated with Irish rock band U2 on the song 'Sarajevo Girl'. This was the start of several crossover collaborations for Pavarotti, and they remained a large feature of his career until his death. Click below to see the duet.
Another of the 'Pavarotti & Friends' concerts saw Pavarotti and The Spice Girls team up in 1998. Click below to see them duet on the Spice Girls' 'Viva Forever'. Watch them perform it by clicking below.
In 1998, Pavarotti was presented with the Grammy Legend Award. By that time, only 11 other artists had ever been given the same award, including Billy Joel, Liza Minelli and Michael Jackson. He is pictured here backstage at the Grammys with movie maestro John Williams.
Pavarotti began a 40-city farewell tour in 2004 at the age of 69 performing one last time in old and new locations, after more than four decades on the stage. The tour culminated in Pavarotti's 70th birthday party which looks like it was a boisterous affair, not uncharacteristically for the flamboyant tenor.
On 10 February 2006, Pavarotti sang Nessun Dorma at the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Turin - it was his final performance. In the last act of the opening ceremony, he received the longest and loudest ovation of the night from the crowd. In July 2006, while undertaking his international "farewell tour," Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died the following year on 6 September.