Houston Community News >> Chinese Fans Mourn Pavarotti

9/6/2007-- On June 23, 2001, Italian opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti - as part of the Three Tenors - lent the considerable weight of his powerful voice in support of Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

"Beijing fully deserves the Olympics If I had a vote, I'd vote for Beijing," Pavarotti declared during his visit as he, along with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, held the audience in thrall at the Forbidden City.

Three weeks later, Beijing won the bid - but the man credited with taking opera to the masses will, sadly, not be able to watch the Games.

The 71-year-old died yesterday at his home in Modena, the city of his birth, from pancreatic cancer.

Pavarotti became a household name in China after his 1986 debut in Beijing. He toured with Genoa Opera House to perform La Boheme in Tianqiao Theatre and gave recitals at Beizhan Theatre and the Great Hall of the People. It was the first time that China's opera fans heard the real high C live from the "king of opera".

During that trip, he also visited the Central Conservatory of Music and said he was impressed by Chinese culture and traditional music.

"China is special to me. My first concert in China in 1986 has left good memories," he said when he returned to Beijing for the farewell concert in December 2005.

"It was a great honor to be the first vocal artist to perform at the Great Hall of the People," he said.

Hong Kong and Shanghai also hosted his farewell tour concerts. Though the tenor was not in the best of condition, Chinese fans packed the venues.

"An era has ended. The opera world lost the best tenor of the generation," Chen Li, a Beijing-based opera critic who hosts a classical music program on Radio Beijing, said yesterday.

"Nobody can take his place in opera, although there are many wonderful tenors of his time and many younger ones today," said Chen Jixin, president of Beijing Time New Century Entertainment who presented the Three Tenors Concert at the Forbidden City.

It was at that Three Tenors Concert that Chinese tenor Dai Yuqiang met Pavarotti for the first time. Dai's singing talent impressed Pavarotti, who recommended him to opera houses in Europe.

"I knew his health was not so good but it's still difficult to accept the sad news," Dai said.

He recalled their last meeting at Pavarotti's home in Modena last December when Dai was rehearsing Aida with La Scala.

"He looked very weak in bed and was receiving infusions, but he was still concerned about my rehearsals. He also asked me to sing an aria from Aida, and when I sang he echoed me.

Contributed by Peoples Daily Online.