PAVAROTTI – This documentary starts in an unlikely place for opera, the Teatro Amazonas, in Manaos, once the rubber capital of the world, well inland in the Amazonian jungle, in fact in the middle of the Brazilian forest. The rubber barons who exploited the new product which would revolutionize the automobile industry had built that majestic theatre and had managed to bring there some of the most famous opera stars of the turn of the 20th century. Caruso would have sung there, although there are some doubts that such a thing really happened. Pavarotti, however, visited the legendary opera palace, and with images of that journey, this documentary directed by Ron Howard begins.
“Pavarotti” is a well-researched documentary, with relevant archival material covering practically all the life of the greatest tenor of the late 20th century. His early life is documented with a few family photos, his humble origins in Modena, the influence of his father, a baker who also was an amateur tenor, his experience as a member of the local church choir, his participation in a singing contest, the launching of his career, and his marriage to a local young woman.
The movie also shows the highlights of Pavarotti’s career as an opera singer, and as a participant in numerous recitals, the most famous were the ones staged with his fellow tenors Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras during two of the Soccer World Cups. Pavarotti also contributed to numerous humanitarian causes, and in some of the benefit-concerts shared the stage with pop singers.
The film doesn’t avoid some touchy issues such as his affair with a young American soprano, and then his divorce, to marry his personal assistant, a much younger –and very beautiful– Nicoletta Mantovani in 2003.
This is a film that should please both, opera lovers as well as members of the public who may be really interested in the life of a great artist, a generous and likeable human being, and a giant of the opera, the “king of the high Cs” as he was called.