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Old 10-26-2003, 10:12 PM   #1
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For Pavarotti, Time to Go Pop

Entertainment - Reuters

For Pavarotti, Time to Go Pop
Sun Oct 26, 9:48 AM ET Add Entertainment - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By Anastasia Tsioulcas

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Tenor Luciano Pavarotti (news - web sites) has been a superstar for decades. He is a household name around the world -- whether his fans first encountered him on the stage of Milan's La Scala, the Hollywood Bowl or at London's Wembley Stadium.

But now that he is 68 years old and has announced that he will retire in 2005, Pavarotti has released the solo pop album that his label has so long wanted. The all-Italian-language "Ti Adoro" hit U.S. stores Sept. 23. Other regions plan to issue the project by year's end.

Pavarotti has been associated with the Decca label for 40 years, creating a discography that ranges from benchmark performances of Bellini, Donizetti, Puccini and other classical composers to the Three Tenors titles.

"For 20 years, Decca has been asking me to make such an album," Pavarotti says. The result: 13 tracks written specifically for the tenor that showcase his richly colored voice and are sprinkled with the high notes that have made him a legend.

But for all the somber, quasi-intellectual musings on this album (with such lyrics as "Star, star of a moment/long, for two million years/were you a slave, then a hero"), some cuts are simply portraits of the singer playing around and having a good time.

There is a nod to the swing era in the title track, a song that manages both a shout-out to the famous "Largo al Factotum" aria from Rossini's opera "The Barber of Seville" and a playful, Busby Berkeley (news)-meets-Baz Luhrmann (news) video, complete with a line of scantily dressed showgirls cavorting around a swaying Pavarotti.

"I refused to do an album like this for a long, long time," he says. "But in the past five years, I said, 'OK, I'll do it.' So Decca sent about 200 songs to choose from, without telling me the name of the writers. And there were some wonderful ballads, but no happy songs.

"In the past year, I got two happy songs that I love -- 'Ti Adoro' and 'Buongiorno a Te' . Now, with those songs, it was time. The colors of my painting were really formed."

Already, the album is a hit: It sits in the No. 3 spot on Billboard's classical and classical crossover charts.

Pavarotti's personal life has drawn interest over the past year, with the deaths of his mother and father and that of his infant son, who died in childbirth (he was survived by his twin sister, Alice, now 8 months old). On Sept. 24, Pavarotti announced his intention to marry Alice's mother, Nicoletta Mantovani (his former secretary), before year's end.

The singer's professional life has had recent turbulence as well. In January, he had a well-publicized split from Herbert Breslin, who had been his manager and publicist for more than 30 years.

" 'Ti Adoro' is an homage to one person, Alice, and to life itself. Yes, I adore life!" the irrepressible tenor says with a grin. "I am a positive person, I think, even though I have lost many people this year and these are dark days for everybody. But I was born positive, and I hope that the world is going to change for the better."

One of the songs most dear to Pavarotti's heart is "Caruso," which features a guitar solo by Jeff Beck (news) and imagines the last days of tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), a critical and popular smash who performed and recorded both high opera and popular songs. Pavarotti has venerated Caruso from his earliest days as a singer, and he is often said to be a latter-day Caruso himself.

Surely, "Ti Adoro" follows in Caruso's footsteps? "But the words today are much better," Pavarotti protests. "Now, they're very good, very intelligent words. In Caruso's day, every line had to rhyme. So always there were more trivial ideas, rhyming 'amore' with 'cuore' . These were noble sentiments, but staple ideas of the genre. But here, now, there is more drama. Love is there, always, but there are more surprises, more kinds of stories.

"Another song on this album is 'Il Gladiatore', which was originally meant to be used in the movie 'Gladiator' with Russell Crowe (news). But I said no then -- too bad. It's a magnificent song and a tough movie. Still, there is so much drama in just the song."

Despite Pavarotti's insistence that this is strictly a pop album, Universal Classics senior VP and general manager Johnston says that "Ti Adoro" is, in the label's eyes, very much a classical crossover project. Indeed, Pavarotti was one of the first classical artists to be marketed to crossover audiences, a lead later followed by such singers as Andrea Bocelli (news - web sites), Russell Watson and Josh Groban (news).

Now, in a somewhat ironic twist, it is the fans of these younger artists whom Decca is seeking out.

"Luciano Pavarotti created the crossover tenor market," Johnston notes emphatically, citing the Three Tenors phenomenon that made Pavarotti and fellow singers Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras household names, as well as the "Pavarotti and Friends" charity performances and recordings with such pop icons as James Brown (news), Mariah Carey (news), Sting, Celine Dion (news) and Elton John (news).

"For 'Ti Adoro,' we're targeting the demographic that has become the typical crossover consumer: women ages 30-60 with a high household income and a high level of education."

Before his retirement, Pavarotti intends a flurry of performances. He will return to New York's Metropolitan Opera (news - web sites) this spring for three performances of Puccini's opera "Tosca." "I will also do a lot of recital concerts before I stop."

Any other performances in the legendary tenor's future? "Maybe once I retire," Pavarotti muses, "I'll sing in the shower. I've never done that before."


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Old 10-26-2003, 10:22 PM   #2
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i was a bit annoyed with him singing with the Spice Girls.

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Old 10-27-2003, 01:21 AM   #3
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Originally posted by MissVelvetDress_75
i was a bit annoyed with him singing with the Spice Girls.
Gah, what's next? Is he going to tongue Britney Spears at the next VMAs?
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Old 10-27-2003, 01:45 AM   #4
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I thought he did a great job on Miss Sarejevo... which BTW, the Italian lyrics sont tres beau IMO.
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