Thursday, September 06, 2007


Update Ken Furie, music editor for the now-defunct High Fidelity, has a post up about Conrad L. Osborne's great article "Diary of a Cavpag Madman," the definitive piece about how Pavarotti the brilliant young singer became Pavarotti the media star. He also talks about how the piece came to be published intact:

About all the credit I can claim for the "CavPag Madman" piece is giving C.L.O. the records to review--unless you count getting the thing into print, and getting it into print intact. (In fact, this was no small feat, but that's another story. Okay, if you must know, I had to threaten to quit. I knew it was a weak bargaining chip--the next time I used it, or at the latest the time after that, it was taken not as a threat but as an offer, and accepted--but this time, at least, it worked, more or less.)

I do recall talking to Conrad while he was working on the, er, "review," and being told that it was taking a strange form, which he projected would represent "either a breakthrough in criticism or the final flipping out of C.L.O." (I suggested there was no reason why it couldn't be both.)

Oddly enough, he was most prominently associated with an aria that wasn't really right for his type of voice: "Nessun Dorma" really needs a bigger, more heroic voice. But Pavarotti made that aria work for him anyway, because he used his voice very intelligently and could always figure out how to make an aria display his voice to best advantage, even if he really shouldn't have been singing it.

One piece that was perfect for his voice was the "Ingemisco" from the Verdi Requiem. One of the things that helped make him a star was his appearance in Herbert Von Karajan's La Scala film of the Requiem, with Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossotto, Nicolai Ghiaurov, and Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear) directing the cameras. Pavarotti was a last-minute replacement for Carlo Bergonzi, and this film -- along with the commercial recording of the Requiem he made in Vienna that year with Georg Solti -- was a huge boost for his reputation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow - Pavarotti singing the "Ingemisco" was exactly what flashed into my head when I heard he'd died. The Solti recording is one of the great glories.