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.
Luciano Pavarotti – The 1960s Joan Sutherland
We are now in the 1960s and still in his late 20s, Luciano has already come to the attention of two opera singers who take him under their wings. One was a tenor who Luciano has admired since his teens, Giuseppe Di Stefano who mentored the young singer and helped him preserve his voice as he began to take on more and more demanding parts. The second was the soprano Joan Sutherland who invited Luciano to accompany her on a 40 date tour of Australia in 1965.
Joan Sutherland was performing with the Greater Miami Opera singing in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, but the tenor who was scheduled to perform was ill. As the soprano was already travelling on tour with Luciano Pavarotti, she recommended him for the role which he knew very well. Following this successful collaboration, Luciano signed up with the Sutherland-Williamson company for the Australia tour where he sang Edgardo to Joan Sutherland’s Lucia.
Here is a little background on this particular tragic opera in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti with the Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammarano. It was loosely based on Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor written in 1819 and set in the 17th century south-east of Scotland. Lucy Ashton (Lucia) becomes entangled in the feud between her own family and that of the neighbouring Ravenswoods.
Donizetti wrote Lucia di Lammermoor in 1835 when he found himself as the leading composer of Italian Opera.. There was also a great interest in Italy and the rest of Europe in the history and culture of Scotland and the violent conflicts and legends made for a perfect vehicle for a dramatic and tragic opera.
In the first performance today here is Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti with an aria from Lucia di Lammermoor.
Another performance on the Australian tour was La Traviata which is now one of the most performed operas world-wide.
La Traviata (The Fallen Woman) is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La Dame aux Camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. It was first performed on 6 March 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice. Verdi wanted it to be a contemporary piece but the management of La Fenice wanted it set in 17th century France. It was not until the late 19th century that the opera was performed in modern dress.
Here are excerpts from La Traviata from that 1965 Australian tour uploaded by Homoclassicus.
In this duet with Joan Sutherland, Pavarotti shows outstanding vocal control as he sings with his characteristic breadth, vigor, and intensity. Sutherland demonstrates the lightness and agility of her coloratura soprano technique and is very convincing as Violetta, singing this aria with incredible emotion. Together they offer us a satisfying balance of lyrical flexibility.
On his return for the extended Australian tour Pavarotti debuted at La Scala in Milan in La bohème reprising his role as Rodolfo with his childhood friend Mirella Freni singing ‘Mimi’.
La bohème is an opera in four acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger. The world premiere performance of La bohème was in Turin on 1 February 1896 at the Teatro Regio,conducted by the young Arturo Toscanini. 50 years later Toscanini would conduct La bohème with the NBC Symphony Orchestra which was then released on record and disc making it the only Puccini opera to be recorded by an original conductor.
In the next two years Luciano would add more roles to his repetoire and his first appearance as “Tonio” in Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment took place at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 2 June of 1966. In the later production at the New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the tenor hit the nine high Cs of his aria so effortlessly that the audience apparently erupted into a spontaneous ovation.
“Ah! Mes Amis” – from Donizetti’s La Fille du regiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) Live at the Met 1972 – Uploaded by Angus.
Pavarotti is dazzling in his performance of “Ah! Mes Amis.” This famous aria can be a tenor’s dream or nightmare. Being able to hit 9 high C’s consistently, in the context of a moving line and keeping a ringing, beautiful sound, requires exceptional talent, but also technique – a challenge no tenor should face halfheartedly. Pavarotti did this with what can only be described as astounding force and control. His chest voice, the strongest source of sound, and his head voice, where sound vibrates in the head’s cavities, were perfectly balanced in this aria making him the undisputed King of the 9 high C’s.
During the rest of the decade, apart from developing his career, Luciano began to record with London Records.
The World’s Favourite Tenor Arias – Arias from La Bohème, Tosca and Rigoletto. Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Edward Downes Decca Records 1966
Arias by Verdi & Donizetti – Arias from Luisa Miller, I due Foscari, Un ballo in maschera, Macbeth, Lucia di Lammermoor, Il duca d’Alba, La favorita and Don Sebastiano (with the Wiener Opernorchester under Edward Downes, 1968)
Additional material : Wikipedia
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.
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