I'm all done wallowing now. I think I've gotten it out of my system.
Saturday morning I cleaned the kitchen after brunch (we girls were feeding cows and cats this weekend, so we ate late breakfasts). At 10:00 on KCHO, our local NPR affiliate, a special 2-hour program dedicated to Luciano Pavarotti came on. I was glad to have lots of dishes and pans to clean, and some cooking to do.
The program had been created in 2005 to honor Pavarotti on his 70th birthday. Most of the discussion dealt with his career history, and was therefore in the past tense, but every once in a while the present tense would sneak into a sentence (he was alive and well when the program was recorded), and it was startling.
Two glorious hours of the most impressive of Pavarotti's lifetime of performances, each one more fantastic than the last. From the effervescent and playful "La Donna è Mobile" (the Duke's aria from Rigoletto), to Schubert's reverent Panis Angelicus, to his signature aria "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot," I was a blubbering fool. As I have said before, Pavarotti's voice always brings tears to my eyes, but I just needed a good wallow, I guess.
The most striking contradiction about the man hit me between the eyes as I fussed about my kitchen inventing things to clean: Pavarotti was known for his crystal clear singing voice and superb diction, but it didn't extend to his speaking voice. Radio provides no visuals to distract the listener, so I simply closed my eyes and listened to recorded interviews with the man.
He was a mush-mouth.
Maybe that's not fair, because English is not his first language, and I have no way to judge his Italian diction. But listening to his spoken words pour out of my radio, I expected them to reverberate like bells off of my kitchen walls, or dance through the room like refracted light. They didn't. They hit the floor with a thud like cold oatmeal.
How could a man with so much verve and energy on stage express himself in such sodden tones when speaking? Perhaps he was ever protecting his voice, but come on, man, how about a little expression? I pictured Don Corleone on cold medicine. With a lisp, I might add.
Still, as I scrubbed my sink I got to hear Pavarotti's famous 1972 performance of "Ah Mes Amis" (from "La Fille du Regiment") at the New York Metropolitan Opera, in which he nailed nine high C's, seemingly without effort. The Olympic equivalent would be nine back-to-back perfect 10s. He had to take 17 curtain calls that night. And to hear him sing a high F (F5) above the high C was transcendent.
I'm glad his funeral has come and gone, because I couldn't take one more tribute show, although I'm sure I'd tune in anyway. It was beginning to bug me that a whole generation knows him as the fat guy who sang with Sting and U2 and (oh God) the Spice Girls. His choice to mix with the rabble was probably good for opera, but it diminished him. But I never really minded -- I just refused to listen to such drab music.
So I have a clean kitchen and red puffy eyes, and two mystified daughters. I need a vacation.