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THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 2017 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS T he US, the Metropolitan, discovered Big Luciano in 1969, when he had walked the famous opera theatre's stage for the first time to interpret Tosca, an opera that remained a pièce de resistance throughout his over forty years long career. About 60 interpretations, along with 49 of Nemorino in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore and 34 of Rodolfo in Puccini's Bohème, just to mention the most popular and acclaimed. The exploit, his true consecra- tion, came on the 17th of February 1972, always in New York, when he wowed the audience with nine perfect high Cs during Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment. That night he establi- shed another personal record: he was called back on stage 17 times to receive a standing ovation. Yet, the US that so much ado- red him, did also criticize him ferociously, especially in the later years of his career: for his own persistency in interpreting the roles that made him famous in spite of age and of a voice which no longer was, unfortunately, the same it used to be. And for del- ving into different music genres, from opera to pop and rock, a choice considered by many too commercial. However, making opera music "popular" has certainly been one of his many merits. He was the first tenor to become a real pop star: in the 1990s, more than 150.000 people gathered in Hyde Park to see him and, in June 1993, more 500.000 filled Central Park to listen to his voice, with millions more watching him on tv. That September, he sang for 300.000 people under the Tour Eiffel. It never happened, before him. Just as undeniable is the fact he became a symbol of "Italianità," loved by all genera- tions. In what could be considered his spiritual will, he declared: "I hope to be remembered as an opera singer, that is, as the emblem of an art form that found its highest expression in my coun- try. I also hope that my love for opera will always be central in my existence." His sheer talent made him a music icon and an icon of Italy. Just like Caruso, the Italian top-notcher adored because he understood the essence of his times more than any other opera singer, when he realized belcanto had to evolve along with the tastes of his epoch. It was America to transform him into a world icon, too: he became a movie star, and was the first opera singer to record Neapolitan ballads, eclipsing the gap between high and popular music. At the same time, he managed to sell more than a million records with Vesti la Giubba, the famous aria from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, erasing all prejudices great artists of his time had against the gra- mophone. It had never happened before. And Big Luciano did just the same: he marked the time. But why did the US love Pavarotti so much? In the book "A Luciano Pavarotti: un maestro per tutti,"  Andrea Bocelli tries to explain it: "America yearns for Italian culture. American people have no prejudices and they are usually honest when they love and when they don't. America loved and will always love Pavarotti, just as it loved and still loves me. The "Italianità" Americans could perceive, in enchantment, at Luciano's con- certs, was also made of an ability to fill music with values that make a life worth to be lived. An "Italianità" made of common sense, of the art of friendship and of the love that goes into what we do and communicate. That was one of the secrets of Luciano's success." What Bocelli - another symbol of Italy's opera music in the world - writes about his father when talking about his life as an artist, does set him close to Big Luciano: "Sandro Bocelli never set foot in the US, but he was convinced that, if there were a place where my talent would have been appreciated and valued, it certainly was the States. He developed this idea through reading, through the news and the stories gathered from tv and from the collective imagination of a country, Italy, that always looked to America as a mythical land of democracy and opportunities. It had to be true, if between 1880 and 1915 over 4 millions Italians landed on its shores." There's a yearning for Italian culture in the US, but Pavarotti has also always been profoundly admired for - and we use here Bocelli's words once more - "that pure gold voice, soft yet strong willed, recognizable just like a signature, a voice like a freshly- cut pomegranate, that looks like blood but tastes like sugar. And behind this voice, a crystal clear, perfect diction, thanks to which no syllable would loose its cla- rity. Moving it all, a sensibility that had no rivals because, while remaining always faithful to the vocal score, let his fiery, power- ful personality shine through." No one like Pavarotti, pure talent and pop icon of Italy opera music SIMONE SCHIAVINATO

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