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Saturday, August 07, 2004
Strange Mozart and 'cycles'

Isn't it strange how things go in cycles? This is how a recent article about Pavarotti begins:
He obviously has - or had - a truly stupendous voice, matched for magnificence perhaps only by the size of his stomach. But, according to a book to be published this autumn, Luciano Pavarotti is also childish, obsessive, over-demanding, lecherous and very, very rude....
Read more here.
... of Placido Domingo, the Spanish tenor who, with Pavarotti and Jose Carreras formed the Three Tenors, sang at four World Cups, turned classical opera arias into huge popular hits and in one broadcast sang to a TV audience of 1.5 billion people, Pavarotti said: "In his dreams, Placido never had a voice like mine."
But would he have wanted that, old fruit?
Pavarotti performed what he said was his last performance of a staged opera in New York in March. He had been expected to abandon opera (except for farewell recitals) from next year, but physical and vocal frailty - and, perhaps, some very bad reviews for his final three performances in Tosca at the Met - seem to have brought forward the decision.

"It was sad to hear him with such diminished energy," wrote Antoni Tommasini, the critic for the New York Times, in remarks worthy of the great man himself. "It took so much concentration for Pavarotti simply to make his voice work that he essentially left matters of rhythm and pacing to chance."
Ho hum. Here's an interesting (related) experience I had in Australia: I am driving along a main road somewhere near Sydney. The traffic is heavy and looks set to stay constipated for the next 100 kms. Inevitably, I am listening to ABC Classic FM. There is a request programme on and I miss the introduction to a familiar duet: 'La ci darem la mano' from Mozart's Don Giovanni. There are very strange things about the recorded (live) performance: the Don character sounds ill at ease (strangled?) and Zerlina has a pure, clear, but apparently not very well-trained voice. While listening to the piece with an innocent ear, I thought that with a lot of training, the soprano would make a quite acceptable Zerlina. At the same time, I thought that the male singer would be unlikely to make it, ever... Comes the denouement and I find it's (wait for it) Luciano Pavarotti and Sheryl Crow singing together at a 1996 charity concert. I am gobsmacked.

The first problem is that Pavarotti is a tenor and the Don is a baritone and I cannot tell if the piece has been transposed. Having done a bit of research into Sheryl Crow's background, I find that she studied Music ('Voice', would you believe?), at Missouri State University. That accounts for her performance's being 'interesting' rather than execrable.

So, I welcome the news of Pavarotti's retirement. I do wish him a long, successful and uninterupted time away from both stage and concert hall. Alas, I find that it's only the stage he has abandoned. Still, it's something.

Sheryl Crow seems to have done very nicely elsewhere. She's also currently Lance Armstrong's girlfriend. How about that for things 'running in cycles'?

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