Luciano Pavarotti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (12 October 1935 – 6 September 2007) was an Italian operatic tenor, who also crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time. He made numerous recordings of complete operas and individual arias, and established himself as one of the finest tenors of the 20th century. He was one of “The Three Tenors” and became well-known for his televised concerts and media appearances. Pavarotti was also noted for his charity work on behalf of refugees and the Red Cross, amongst others.
Pavarotti began his professional career as a tenor in 1961 in Italy. That same year, he made his first international appearance in La traviata in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. He sang in opera houses in addition to Italy, in the Netherlands, Vienna, London, Ankara, Budapest and Barcelona. The young tenor earned valuable experience and recognition while touring Australia at the invitation of soprano Joan Sutherland in 1965. He made his United States debut in Miami soon afterwards, also on Sutherland’s recommendation. His position as a leading lyric tenor was consolidated in the years between 1966 and 1972, during which time he first appeared at Milan’s La Scala and other major European houses. In 1968, he debuted at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera as Rudolfo in Puccini’s La bohème. At the Met in 1972, in the role of Tonio in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment he earned the title “King of the high Cs” when he sang the aria “Ah mes amis … pour mon âme”. He gained worldwide fame for the brilliance and beauty of his tone, especially into the upper register. He was at his best in bel canto operas, pre-Aida Verdi roles and Puccini works such as La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly. The late 1970s and 1980s saw Pavarotti continue to make significant appearances in the world’s foremost opera houses.