If you’re a fan of the great Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, then Pavarotti is the movie for you.
Director Ron Howard’s two hour documentary includes clips from the numerous interviews the larger-than-life Pavarotti gave during his 45-year career.
We also hear from over 50 people who knew the man including his family, students and fellow performers from both opera and the rock worlds including Plácido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Lang Lang and Bono.
Managers, promoters and marketers who played a role in ensuring Pavarotti sold over 100 million records in his lifetime, also feature.
There’s also extensive footage of some of Pavarotti’s best known performances together with numerous never-before-seen videos.
The documentary was born from Decca Records search for a filmmaker who could bring the essence of Pavarotti’s life and music to the fore. Pavarotti’s estate fully supported the program and provided Howard and his team with access to extensive archival material, including home movies. Family members also agreed to be interviewed and as a result his first wife Adua Veroni and his three daughters Cristina, Lorenza and Giuliana feature in what, at times, seems a very emotional experience for them all.
Much of the rare footage comes from the personal collection of Nicoletta Mantovani, Pavarotti’s second wife and the head of the Pavarotti Museum in Modena. Personal interviews Nicolette conducted with Pavarotti during their time together also feature throughout the documentary.
Through the use of the footage, pictures and interviews we learn about Pavarotti’s life and career – from this birth in Northern Italy in the 1930s, to his first job as a school teacher and his breakthrough success as Rodolfo in “La Bohème” in Reggio Emilia, Italy, in 1961. We then follow his career as an opera superstar to the biggest rock star of classical music.
In the process we learn about the influence of his father, an amateur singer and baker who taught the young Pavarotti to sing, and Joan Sutherland who taught him the correct way to breathe during a tour of Australia in the mid-1960s.
His ability to hit the high C note is also explored in detail. Pavarotti believed his voice was a gift from God and saw himself as that gift’s humble custodian.
We also discover Pavarotti was genuinely afraid before each performance, that he hated being alone and that he loved food and being spoiled by women.
While no explanation is explicitly given for his affairs while married to Veroni, the influence of women while he was growing up in war torn Italy, with all its horrors, may be a factor.
His humour, impulsiveness, enthusiasm, generosity in helping disadvantaged children and adults and persuasiveness also come to the fore.
While the documentary has been praised for the story it tells, there has also been some criticism for what’s been left out. His affairs with at least two women (the other being Madelyn Renee who is also interviewed) while married are certainly covered but it has been suggested some other unsavoury actions and behaviours were ignored.
As one who knew little about Pavarotti before this documentary, such admissions didn’t have any great impact as my interest was in his professional career. On this note Pavarotti certainly delivers thanks especially to the clips of his many brilliant performances.
Pavarotti is now showing in movie theatres around Australia.
- movie, review
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