Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – #Classical – Luciano Pavarotti – The Early Years

It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Welcome to a brand new series by William Price King.In the last few months we have featured some of the most talented and legendary Jazz artists and it is now time to turn our focus to some classical performers who have opened our hearts to the magic of beautifully crafted music. William originally trained in classical music and performed in North America and Europe before turning his musical talents to Jazz.

Luciano Pavarotti was an Italian tenor and one of the most popular contemporary vocal performers in the world of opera and across multiple musical genres. Known for his televised concerts, and as one of the Three Tenors, Pavarotti was also noted for his award-winning charity work for raising money on behalf of refugees, the Red Cross, War Child, and many other charitable organizations.

He is best known worldwide, both amongst opera aficionados and the general public with whom he achieved his international celebrity, when in 1990 his rendition of Giacomo Puccini’s aria, “Nessun Dorma” from opera “Turandot”, became the theme song of the BBC television coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. Discogs Luciana Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti – The Early Years

In October 1935, a legend was born on the outskirts of the northern Italian city of Modena, on the south side of the Po Valley. The city is well known for other legendary names too. The automative industry has been producing such iconic cars carrying the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Masarati names for many years.

Luciano’s parents Fernando and Adele Venturi were hard working people. His father was a baker but was also an amateur tenor, who despite singing with the local choir, was reluctant to commit to a professional singing career due to a lack of self-confidence. Money was tight and the family of four lived in a small apartment until 1943 when the war began to impact the city. They moved into one room on a farm in the safer surroundings of the countryside.

Luciano had an active childhood and loved playing football, but he also found himself listening to his father’s recordings of tenors of the day. These included one of Luciano’s favourite artists, who would later have a direct influence on his career, the great tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano. Another of Luciano’s influences in those early years was Mario Lanzo, and he used to watch his films at the cinema and then come home to imitate him in front of the mirror. Fernando encouraged Luciano to sing with his choir and at the age of nine years old he made his first public appearance.

The young Luciano faced a difficult choice when he graduated from school. He was interested in following a career in professional football in the key position of goalkeeper, but his mother Adele persuaded him to train as a teacher instead. Following his training Luciano taught for two years but his love of music persisted leading to his decision to spend the next seven years in vocal training.

At nineteen he enrolled with Arrigo Pola a teacher and professional tenor in Modena who agreed to teach him free of charge.To support himself Luciano worked at part-time jobs including as a school teacher and then an insurance salesman. Arrigo discovered that his student had perfect pitch but according to those who worked with this talented tenor; he never learned to read music.

At age 20, Luciano had his first taste of success when the Corale Rossini, the male voice choire he and Fernando were members of, won the first prize at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. This experience cemented his decision to become a professional singer.

Following the departure of his teacher Arrigo Pola for Japan, Luciano became the student of Ettore Campogalliani who was also teacher to a childhood friend, Mirella Freni. She too would go on to achieve fame on the operatic stage and they performed and recorded many times together.

During the next few years apart from studying, Luciano performed in surrounding towns without pay. Then disaster struck when he developed a nodule on his vocal chords; resulting in a very poor performance at a concert and his subsequent decision to give up singing. Thankfully for the world of opera and his legions of fans, the condition did heal and Pavarotti attributed this to the psychological release of stepping away from performances and the stress and intensity of training.

Whatever the reason, the nodule not only disappeared but, as he related in his autobiography: “Everything I had learned came together with my natural voice to make the sound I had been struggling so hard to achieve”.

Then came a breakthrough in 1961 when he won the Achille Peri Competition and the first prize was the role of Rodolfo in a production of Puccini’s La Bohème to be given in Reggio Emilia on April 28 of that year.

In his debut performance of this famous aria, Che Gelida Manina from La Boheme, the young Pavarotti was quite convincing. He expressed the passion and style that later characterized his career. He sang the lyrics in long, sustained, legato breaths and with impeccable diction. He was at ease and flawless in vocal quality and presence. The “bravos” at the end of the aria were well deserved!!!

His debut was a success but moving forward with his career would require a new approach to obtaining roles and luckily for Luciano a well-known agent, Alesandro Ziliani was in the audience. He offered to represent him and when La Bohème was to be produced in Lucca, Italy, Ziliani told the management that they could only have the services of a well-known singer they wanted if they took Pavarotti in a package deal.

Very early in his career, on 23 February 1963, he debuted at the Vienna State Opera in the same role. In March and April 1963 Vienna saw Pavarotti again as “Rodolfo” and as “Duca di Mantova” in Rigoletto.

The same year saw his first concert outside Italy when he sang in Dundalk, Ireland for the St Cecilia’s Gramophone Society and his Royal Opera House debut where he replaced his teenage idol Giuseppe Di Stefano who was ill as Rodolfo.

During the critical time in his career two established performers took Luciano under their wing. Giuseppe Di Stefano would mentor the young tenor and this included preventing him taking roles before his voice was ready.

In a huge boost to his career Luciano had the opportunity to work with the great Joan Sutherland. Luckily Ms. Sutherland was looking for a young tenor who was taller than herself to take on an extended tour to Australia and found the perfect answer in the physically imposing Pavarotti. The two sang some forty performances over two months, and Pavarotti later credited Sutherland for the breathing technique that would sustain him over his career. More about this tour in next week’s post.

To end this chapter in Luciano Pavarotti’s early career, is this delightful concert version of the aria “La donna è mobile” from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto performed in the film 1983, Pavarotti, as the Duke, sings with real vigor. He shows off the power, intensity and sparkle that made him such a great performer. This aria is in strophic form, which basically means the same music is repeated throughout the piece. His crisp diction, emphatic accentuation, and bright vowels are quite impressive. No wonder this song was the hit of the opera. Cristiano Grimaldi 

Additional material : Wikipedia

Autobiography: Amazon

Buy the music of Luciano Pavarotti:Amazon

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson


As always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.


43 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – #Classical – Luciano Pavarotti – The Early Years

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – #Classical – Luciano Pavarotti – The Early Years – Good Time Tips

  2. Loved reading about Pavarotti and learning about his life.
    I enjoyed reading all those ‘Italian’ names they have such style. LOL
    Great voice and a great talent, looking forward to learning more.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This was terrific! My parents loved opera but it’s something that I took a while to warm to. I adore it now and I’ve loved Pavarotti’s voice since the World Cup Nessun Dorma. I particularly enjoyed the second piece – apart from a beautiful voice, the man can certainly hold a note! Many thanks to both of you. xx

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  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – #Classical – Luciano Pavarotti – The Early Years - 💥Peace & Truth

  5. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Update – August 15th – 21st 2022 – Chart hits 2001, #Pavarotti, #Food, #Waterford 1940s, Podcast, Weight Loss, Stories, Reviews, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  6. I was lucky enough to see an early showing of a documentary about Pavarotti a few years back (just before the pandemic), with his widow present, and he was a fascinating man, for sure. Thanks to William for this new series.

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