Luciano Pavarotti -- big Luciano as the Italians call their most famous tenor -- will on Sunday celebrate a career spanning 40 years with a three-hour concert bringing together some of the world's greatest singers.
Jose Carreras, Renata Scotto, Roberto Alagna and his wife Angela Gheorghiu, Carol Vaness and other big names will accompany Pavarotti in the best known arias and duets of the operatic world.
A minor operation forced Spanish tenor Placido Domingo to pull out of the concert at the last minute.
Pavarotti's first major role was that of Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme" at the opera house in Reggio Emilia, near Bologna. The 1961 production was a resounding success.
That same year, he sang "La Traviata" in Belgrade, embarking on a career of concerts and festivals across Europe and then across the globe.
Born on October 12, 1934, Pavarotti is known for his exceptional voice and striking figure -- measuring 1.90 meters (six feet) tall and weighing at various times between 85 and 135 kilos (187 and 297 pounds).
He was instrumental in bringing together the world's best tenors, staging a series of "three tenors" concerts with Domingo and his fellow Spaniard Carreras, including one that was broadcast from the Eiffel Tower in July 1998.
"We learned to get to know each other as human beings. As well as respect, there is now real affection between us," Pavarotti explained recently.
Pavarotti also revolutionized the singing world by lending his voice to all its genres, from variety to Neapolitan songs, performing both with international stars like Sting and Mariah Carey and more passing celebrities.
With his passion for singing, whatever style, Pavarotti continues to stage his annual "Pavarotti and Friends" concerts, the proceeds of which go to charity. He has asked Madonna and Paul McCartney to take part in the next.
"Big Luciano" has no intention of retiring for now but when that time comes, he recently told Italian newspapers, he intends to "teach -- singing of course", letting slip that he dreamt in his youth of becoming "a gym teacher" -- (AFP)
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