The Italian city of Modena in Emilio-Romagna is notable for its famous car and engine makers, Ferrari, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Maserati, and the home of the Panini brand of collectible sports stickers that are very popular world wide.
However, its most famous son is undoubtably LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, the world famous tenor who brought opera to the masses and who died this morning at his home in that city. One usually thinks of opera as ridiculously overdressed women, with unbelievable hot tempers, such as Maria Callas, but Pavarotti became a very popular singer and personality world wide, and particularly with soccer fans, since he loved the game. His first recital was in the USA at William Jewel College in Liberty MO in 1973.(they have a pretty good soccer program). He was very nervous and perspiring and asked for a handkerchief. He was handed a table napkin to use and it became a 'prop' in his future concerts.
When I was a poor college student I used to drive out into the country with my mates in a battered old car and stop at various local pubs. We would get Tom, who was into amateur opera, to start bellowing Nessun Dorma and other 'tunes' from various operas and the locals were amazed at the beauty and quality of his voice. As long as he kept singing we got plied with free drinks by the landlord and the regulars
I had the pleasure of being up close as Pavarotti sang at the draw for the finals of the ITALIA 90, FIFA World Cup in Rome in late 1989, and his Three Tenors Concert on the eve of the Italia 90 Final in Rome at the Baths of Caracallo the following June, alongside Placedo Domingo and Jose Carreras was recorded and became the biggest selling opera recording of all time. NESSUM DORMA ( None Shall Sleep) was the signature tune of BBC TV during the tournament, and they went on to perform similar concerts during FIFA World Cup in Los Angeles 1994, Paris 1998 and Yokahama 2002. Its an aria by Giacomo Puccini from his opera Turandot. He loves a girl, he finally gets the girl and shouts VINCDERO !!!!! I have conquered.
ITALIA '90 was personally a wonderful experience, from dancing in the aisles and outside the San Siro Stadium in Milan after Cameroon, down to 9 players had defeated reigning champions Argentina,1-0 in the opening match, through matches in Genoa, Torino, Florence and Roma to the final at Stadio Olympico under the seven hills of Rome when a penalty gave West Germany the cup over Argentina
He made an appearance on Saturday Night Live, he sang with U2, he performed in front of 150,000 people at London's Hyde Park in torrential rain,and before 500,000 at New York City's Central Park, and he once sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. When a delegation wanted to his home to give him one award he said he was too tired, but on learning that Sir Bobby Charlton had come to make the presentation he said he had suddenly recovered and would accept it from 'someone greater than myself.'
He suffered from his weight, from diabetes, and most recently from cancer and his last public performance was to sing Nessun Dorma at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. He is mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records twice. Once for his biggest selling album, and second for receiving a record 165 curtain calls after a performance in New York City.