The Pavarotti and Friends Collection celebrates the internationally renowned charity concert series that brought together the world's greatest pop performers with the greatest international classical star, Luciano Pavarotti.
It would be hard to imagine a better performance of Donizetti's comic masterpiece. If there was one role that ideally suited Luciano Pavarotti's voice and stage personality, it was Nemorino, the impoverished and not-very-bright peasant who worships the village's prettiest and richest young woman from a distance, is swindled by a traveling vendor of "miracle" medicines, but wins her hand by dumb luck. The story has comedy, pathos, and a put-down of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (or at least the Tristan story) written long before Wagner composed it.
Luciano Pavarotti will always be associated with the role of the painter Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca. His interpretations of the arias "Recondita armonia" and "E lucevan le stelle" became two of his greatest hits, which he sang at all his stadium concerts .
This studio recording was made in 1989 coinciding with a memorable production from the Metropolitan Opera, later captured on DVD. It's a delightful performance, and a wonderful highlight of Pavarotti's later career. Kathleen Battle's sparkling soprano is a brilliant accompaniment to Pavarotti's still-ringing tone.
"Pavarotti's voice was still beautiful and pliable, his phrasing exquisite. And he loved the role of Nemorino and always seemed happy with both its comedy and pathos–he steals every scene he's in, and no one minds…Kathleen Battle sings Adina with perfect, pearl-like tone, absolute fluency and commitment, and a trill to die for…Enzo Dara is an ideal Dulcamara, just the right combination of huckster and sentimentalist, with ease in every register and with fast music."
– Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
The great Italian stage and screen director Franco Zeffirelli made these widely acclaimed films, both starring Plácido Domingo. with Georges Prêtre conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala. Pagliacci, which co-stars the great singing actress Teresa Stratas, brought Zeffirelli the coveted Emmy as Best Director in the category of Classical Music Programming. Cavalleria was filmed on location in Sicily, which adds immeasurably to the power and atmosphere of this timeless story of love, honour, justice, and violence.
In 1994, the same Metropolitan Opera put two contrasting pieces of the verismo puzzle side by side—the belated verismo of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and the classic verismo of Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, which had reached the stage some twenty-six years earlier.
Those who know Zeffirelli's style won't be surprised by the conventionally lavish production, but it effectively evokes the atmosphere of religious oppression and personal antagonisms Verdi so unerringly depicts. The dark-hued, threatening setting fits Muti's energetic, rhythmically vital conception. He quickens the emotions in a peculiarly Italianate way, and throughout evinces a feeling for the colouring of the score. His reading is in turn a good background for some thoughtful and idiomatic singing.