Pavarotti kept a secret pasta stash at the Met Opera for snacking between arias

8 April 2024, 16:24

Pavarotti kept pasta in the wings of the Met Opera, for snacks between songs.
Pavarotti kept pasta in the wings of the Met Opera, for snacks between songs. Picture: Getty / Alamy

By Siena Linton

While Pavarotti enjoyed the spotlight of the world’s greatest opera stages, a bowl of pasta waited loyally in the wings...

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Best known for his thundering tenor voice, inimitable stage presence, and jubilant personality, the great Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti also had a lifelong penchant for pasta.

Nicknamed ‘The King of the High Cs’, after a 1973 Metropolitan Opera performance saw him sing nine consecutive crystal clear notes, Pavarotti’s rider reportedly called for indulgent amounts of his favourite Italian foods, from pasta and parmesan to salami.

And, according to the Met Opera’s general manager Peter Gelb, he would even keep a bowl of pasta hidden just off stage to satisfy his mid-performance snacking habits. Some rigatoni to go with his Rigoletto, if you like.

Following a backstage tour of the New York building, Page Six reported that Gelb had told his guests: “Pavarotti, who had an insatiable appetite, often kept secret caches of his favourite pasta in the wings so that he could wander off stage between arias and have a snack.”

Read more: When Pavarotti and Tracy Chapman stunned the world in a soulful operatic duet

Pavarotti sings 'Nessun Dorma', with English translation

And while an indulgent pre-Carmen carbonara probably isn’t the most optimal performance-enhancing meal, Gelb’s claim is backed up by Simeon Rosset, who served as Pavarotti’s personal butler during a UK tour in 2004.

According to The Sunday Post, Rosset had to convert the room next door to Pavarotti’s bedroom into a small kitchen.

“There were to be three roast chickens at all times,” Rosset said. “There was fresh pasta available at all times. We had to have tomatoes – a particular type of Italian tomatoes – at all times.”

Was his lavish Mediterranean diet the secret to his success? Probably not. Pavarotti himself told the New York Times in 1976 that his singing had improved since embarking on a diet.

An interview a decade later with the same newspaper saw Pavarotti claim: “You need some sugar when you sing. You need the energy. Zap! You cannot be romantic on stage without some sugar.”

Either way, it can’t hurt to try. So next time you take to the stage, why not season your vocal cords with some spag-liacci?