News World On This Day: World-famous opera singer Luciano Pavarotti was born
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On This Day: World-famous opera singer Luciano Pavarotti was born

World-famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti would have turned 85 today. Photo: Getty
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On this day in 1935, a baby boy was born to musical parents in an Italian city famous for its balsamic vinegar and proud opera heritage.

The boy from a poor family in Modena would grow into a man with one of the most rich voices in the world.

Known for his heart-wrenching classical vocals, Luciano Pavarotti’s name has become synonymous with opera.

Even music fans who prefer rap or hip-hop would recognise the name – and the sound – particularly as his signature aria Nessun dorma reached No.2 on the UK pop charts after being used as the BBC theme for its coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

Pavarotti was born into a poor but happy family on the outskirts of Modena.

His father Fernando had a strong tenor voice, but was too nervous about performing to consider singing as a serious career.

For a while, it seemed Pavarotti would follow suit.

As a young boy, he was more interested in farming than singing, and even toyed with dreams of becoming a soccer goalkeeper.

But the influence of his family pulled him back to music.

Inspired by his father’s recordings, which featured popular tenors Beniamino Gigli, Giovanni Martinelli and Tito Schipa, Pavarotti soon became hooked on mastering the art of opera.

He was also deeply influenced by Giuseppe Di Stefano and Mario Lanza, saying he used to imitate Lanza in the mirror at home.

In 1954, 19-year-old Pavarotti began studying music thanks to a professional tenor, Arrigo Pola, who offered to teach the struggling student for free.

Without Pola’s act of kindness, Pavarotti may have never made it to the world stage and become the one of the greatest opera stars of the 20th century.

In 2007, he received a final, tearful standing ovation at his funeral after dying at the age of 71 following a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

A recording of the Italian tenor and his father singing Panis Angelicus filled his hometown cathedral and beyond, where thousands of his fans were crying outside.