Movie review: Pavarotti


Luciano Pavarotti stars in “Pavarotti” (2019).

Pavarotti — Running Time: 1:26 — Rating: G

A mild warning about the wonderful “Pavarotti.” Those of you who are genuine opera lovers may find it borders on being frenetic. Those who are looking at it as a biography rather than a musical event will see it differently. Yes, it is frenetic, but so is the man and that’s why this portrait of him is so good. What is more fun than unravelling the mystery of any human being who has had the courage and determination to develop an inborn talent?

Several things become clear quickly about the man himself. He wants to be remembered as a man who brought opera to the people, and the people who made this film want to invite the public to get to know the man who wanted so much to be “just one of the guys.” That is exactly what happens as we watch. In the early days, he has a wife and three children he loves. He sees himself as unsophisticated in life but must deal with fame as his singing tours through rural America make his name familiar to millions.

Away from his family he is a lonely innocent until he undertakes a series of relationships with women who offer him the steady presence he needs. He loves being spoiled by those who become caretakers of him and the 28 suitcases he brings on trips.

Making friends everywhere, Pavarotti never escapes the feeling of fear that creeps over him every time he is about to go on stage. Watch the genuine friendship with Princess Diana in England as she and thousands come to his outdoor concert in pouring rain. As he asks them to close their umbrellas, they are all standing, soaked, and smiling in their affection for this singer they love. He is joined by Navorati who is 34 years younger than he. She becomes his protector.

As he begins to sing with rock stars, opera lovers may groan at the invasion of the ordinary. Baffled and rooted in his lack of sophistication, Pavarotti begins to stop feeling guilty off stage and revels in the “Three Tenor” concerts with his new best friends — Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. By 1994 he feels crushed by injustice in Bosnia and goes there to help the children who return his favors with joy.

This multifaceted man tells us he has lived his songs and we see that clearly as he brings the lessons of his entire life to every performance. He lives in his songs until he dies at 71 in 2007. The riveting thing about Pavarotti is that through all his success, he remained a relatively simple man drawn to people he could help. Stardom never seduced him as he remained himself with friends and fans. It was only when he took to the stage anywhere in the world that he carried with him an inner world that stayed through each performance until he smiled again during the following ovation.

— Reviewed by Joan Ellis

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