Born on October 12th, 1935, and regarded by many as the greatest tenor of all time, Luciano Pavarotti started his professional career in 1961 as an operatic vocalist who crossed over into the world of popular music! He had a well deserved nickname of ‘King of the high Cs’. Along with Plácido Domingo and José Carreras he was one of the Three Tenors who gained international fame after their first concert at the 1990 World Cup.
In fact, their first recording was the most sold classical music album of all time. Quite an achievement. He was also particularly well known for his wonderful performances of ‘Nessun Dorma’. His final public performance was at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. He sang in many operatic performances including bel canto, Puccini’s great La bohème, Tosca, Turandot and Madama Butterfly. He is also credited with finding and then promoting the great Andrea Bocelli after receiving his demo tape from the great Italian rock star Zucchero.
Pavarotti sold over 100 million records in his illustrious career. He was also known for his wonderful charity work and performances especially for the Red Cross and refugees. In all a truly fantastic performer and a man with a big heart who is sorely missed having died of Pancreatic cancer on the 6th. Sept. 2007 at the age of 71.
Celine Dion is the best-selling Canadian musician, and the best-selling French-language recording artist, to date. In 1996, Dion invited Pavarotti to sing on her song “I Hate You Then I Love You” for her album Let’s Talk About Love (1997; #1 around the world). On 9 June 1998, Celine Dion returned the favour when she joined Pavarotti for a performance of the song at the Pavarotti and Friends benefit concert for the children of war-torn Liberia. The show was broadcast live on BBC, PBS, and US cable channels. It was later released as a compilation album and DVD.
For fans of Luciano Pavarotti, the duets with Celine Dion are one song amongst many. Towards the end of his long and distinguished career, Pavarotti became known to, and loved by, a global audience while performing as The Three Tenors with Plácido Domingo and José Carreras during the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Thereafter, Pavarotti crossed over into popular music and became famous for his many collaborations.
Pavarotti used his late-career popularity to raise funds for charity. Notably, he embarked on a series of Pavarotti and Friends benefit concerts, where each song featured a special musical guest. Between 1992 and 2003, there were ten of these concerts, each supporting a different cause. The list of Pavarotti’s “friends” is astonishing: Sting, James Brown, Bono, Lou Reed, Lisa Minelli, Meatloaf, Barry White and many more. Predictably, Pavarotti was criticised for performing pop songs.
Pavarotti had little time for those who denigrated popular music. He said:
“Some say the word pop is a derogatory word to say ‘not important’—I do not accept that. If the word classic is the word to say ‘boring,’ I do not accept. There is good and bad music.”
Of all Pavarotti’s performances with his friends, it is the duet with Celine Dion that is the most polarising. For Dion’s many fans, the live version of “I Hate You Then I Love You” is a high point of her illustrious career. One need only look at the glowing comments under the video for confirmation of this.
Critics have been less kind. In this regard, the Wikipedia entry on the duet is unusually forthright. Under “Critical Reception” it quotes New York Observer editor Jonathan Bernstein: “”I Hate You Then I Love You,” a retitled remake of an old Shirley Bassey song, “Never Never Never,” is a clattering camp travesty during which the big man and the little sparrow indulge in some pent-up sexual jousting. All the unleashed octaves in the world fail to expunge the mental image of the most unfeasible coupling since Biggie Smalls and Li’l Kim”.