This is so sad . . . one of my favorite voices.
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If you don't already have it, get the Decca (London) recording of him in the William Tell. One can debate the Muti recording on Philips being a better musical performance, but on this Luciano's voice is glorious.
For our generation, he has to be the best tenor imho. Rest in peace. Surprisingly, he did a duet not too long ago with the late great James Brown, "It's A Man's Man's Man's World." One of the best versions of this song James ever did, and with a full concert orchestra. You can see it on Youtube.com. Man, they both died pretty close in time.
Luciano personally was bigger than life, I can attest to this first hand and his voice was bigger than he was. I remember an occasion in Detroit back almost two decades ago when a girl friend and I were sitting down to a intimate diner at Vinellis on Woodward Ave. near Jefferson celebrating her birthday and who would enter as if he were taking the stage center, but this great tenor?! Belting out a few operatic lines of song to the delight of all that the maître d' had secretively called and given a heads up to. It was grand. After greeting all the well wishers, entourage and all finally made their way to the one open table in the whole place, as luck would have it, right near the windows beside us. After suffering the visit of every fan in the place they finally served diner to Pavarotti and company. Let me tell you that that man didnt fool around when it came time and diner was served. But before starting he bent over our way, got my attention and apologized for all the clamor while we were trying to have a quiet diner and toasted to us being together. I will never forget his introduction and kind gesture, a gentleman of gentlemen. Amidst all his glory he recognized two people trying to enjoy a romantic moment, very thoughtful I would think for a man in the midst of his own greatness. You will not be easily forgotten, a toast to you Luciano!
Luciano was a singer with beautiful voice. But was he a great singer? I don't know. He was a lousy actor, that is what I know. His tenor was quite light (he probably was a lyric tenor) and was best suited for roles like Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme", Riccardo in Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" and Nemorino in Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore. He intitially didn't want to sing Otello, but eventually made an Otello recording with Georg Solti. Frankly I don't think the voice is well suited for such a dramatic role as Otello. He was not the most disciplined of the singers: he was often singing out of time. It's as if he was only following his own intuition instead of the conductor's baton.
One of the giants in music. While devoted to opera, was one of the few that crossed over into other genres quite nicely, while retaining his outright gift.
The world has lost a magnificent human being, with a voice to match.
He will be missed by all who love music. I know of no one on the horizon, that can fill his shoes. He was an icon to say the least.