7 Sep 2007

OT: Luciano Pavarotti : my tribute

This is certainly off-topic here, but I feel like sharing some personal thoughts and, well, emotions.

When I was a kid, classical music and, in particular, Opera didn´t mean anything to me. I didn´t like listening to those old and dreary songs played by a bunch of aging bald fiddlers sitting in the local theater´s orchestra pit -- and all those strange & highly pathetic plots, spoken/sung in a language you don´t understand plus performed by strangely acting fellows of unspecified gender, all heavily wrapped in funny clothes I´d never dare wearing in public, was just too weird. Mind you, Opera is something your parents and teachers use to personally like and consider "culturally valuable" (yikes alone because of that !), that´s why they force you to "enjoy" it by dragging you in a theater -- and you just say OK because you know you´ll otherwise get ripped off your weekly pocket-money ! Well, even if I would have had developed a soft spot for this voluntarily, I certainly wouldn´t have admitted it, because opera was considered absolutely uncool for my generation, and - well - when you´re a kid, you´re prone to be an opportunist anyway in order to not being considered uncool yourself.

Now that I´m 46, I do see things with different eyes and am allowed to even be uncool. At this age noone expects you to be "hip", and that´s a huge relief after all, because you´re finally free to like what you like without having to justify yourself.

Luciano Pavarotti, one of the certainly most famous opera tenors of all times, has passed away yesterday, and thanks to YouTube I was able to watch some of his live performances -- I gladly admit that I now wish I had paid unbiased attention to this great and in particular *very moving* opera singer before, and I can´t help feeling that I definitely missed something valuable by having been somewhat ignorant towards this genre.

I´ve now watched a lot of Pavarotti videos -- all of them are just awe-inspiring, and some will just drive me to tears. You can *see* that he was a singer with a HUGE and highly emotional voice, who wholeheartedly loved to sing great songs spanning ages and genres -- and that he was someone who made both his audience and his fellow performers (of all ages, genres and nations) just *love* him without any reserve.

When e.g. a politician passes away, chances are very small that he´ll be mourned in a neighbor country anyway, and definitely not by a taxi driver living there. However, if an artist like Pavarotti dies, it´s your turkish neighbor next door who you *never* heard listening to Opera (neither did he hear that from me) and who never even talked about music at all -- but who´ll instantly be telling you "have you heard that Pavarotti is dead ? How sad !! He was such a good man !!" with an exceptionally earnest voice. This is a phenomenon which shows how important a celebrity has *really* been and what traces he has left in the lifes of those how really count -- the "ordinary men" ! It´s Aslan, the muslim Kebap maker, who´s supposed to have no cultural bonds to what Luciano Pavarotti´s art (italian opera) originally represents -- but Pavarotti has left something precious to remember for everyone on earth, no matter what nationality, belief, social standing and whatever else man-made "criterion" tries hard to separate us from each other. In my lifetime respectively in my "western" culture I have so far witnessed just one other deceased artist of the same caliber who was equally mourned and remembered by *everyone* :: Freddie Mercury -- and in my lifetime it´s so far been the passing of only those 2 singers which was the very first thing they tell you in the radio and TV news. It was mentioned in the news for days, and at least for one day these announcements always preceeded other news about politics, economy, natural desasters and other stuff which usually affect everyone´s lifes pretty much !

One of my most favorite Pavarotti videos over there at YouTube is Miserere, sung together with U2´s Bono -- an outstanding song written by Zucchero and here performed in Modena (Italy), which not just serves Bono´s own vocal intensity very well, but also IMHO might probably represent one of Pavarotti´s truly finest and highly emotional moments ever -- at least I can´t imagine how something like this can be topped by any singer on earth ever.

You might want to see and hear what happens at approx. 04:00 -- how, at the end of his part, Pavarotti´s great and loud voice unexpectedly pours out a high & long & even louder note that´s bursting with a staggering, yet in this song´s context (as I take it, about feeling deeply miserable caused by feelings of guilt towards the ones you betrayed, yet asking for forgiveness and help) absolutely appropriate mixture of agression & dispair and abruptly stops at its very climax, and how Bono himself is getting moved by this so much that his voice just breaks in his next part.

Pavarotti´s and Bono´s rendition of "Miserere" will go straight to the bottom of your heart and stay there for very long, regardless who you are or where you come from or what music genre you´re usually attached to, and this is one of the finest and moving moments in music I ever witnessed.

I feel like having to pay my belated and overdue personal tribute to Luciano Pavarotti -- it´s now clear what exactly people loved him for so dearly, and why he is getting missed. You have been *truly* cool !

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