Few singers can choose to duet with anyone they want, but the legendary Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti did just that. Not only did he break down the barriers between opera and rock & pop, transcending musical genres, but during his lifetime he duetted with the biggest rock stars on the planet. Six of these star-studded duets are to be released for the very first time, over 15 years since they were recorded.
The previously unreleased recordings appear as rare bonus material on the official soundtrack to the major Hollywood documentary film ‘Pavarotti’ – directed by the Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard and released theatrically next month – and the companion three-CD set ‘Pavarotti: The Greatest Hits’. Just when fans thought they had heard all that Pavarotti recorded during his colourful career, only now will the following vibrant performances be shared with the world:
Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ with Bono
‘Perfect Day’ with Lou Reed
‘When We Dance’ with Sting
‘It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World’ with James Brown
‘You're the First, the Last, My Everything’ with Barry White
‘Too Much Love Will Kill You’ with Queen’s Brian May & Roger Taylor
Between 1992 and 2003, a series of benefit concerts – known as ‘Pavarotti & Friends’ – were held in the tenor’s home town of Modena, Italy, with the view of raising money for humanitarian groups including War Child and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In a testament to his capacity to connect with an extremely varied cross-section of artists, scores of famous names joined forces for a good cause. It is from these special gala concerts that the audio has been unearthed and remastered. Each track displays how effectively Pavarotti’s supremely distinctive voice works alongside those from completely different areas of music. The results are utterly unique.
Following his death in 2007, Luciano Pavarotti’s phenomenal legacy is defined by his capacity to open up the world of opera to a wider audience, and these musical collaborations with icons from pop, rock and soul revealed his magnificent voice to a new generation of fans.
As President of Decca Records Rebecca Allen explains, “These duets are a wonderful reminder of Pavarotti’s humanitarian side. He used his fame and art to help benefit people, and was able to bring the most brilliant and like-minded singers together for a good cause. This is a central theme to the powerful Ron Howard film, and perhaps one that is forgotten – as his voice was so big and his operatic performances legendary – so it is fitting to share these hidden gems with the world at last.”
Also featured, and being made available for the first time, is ‘Miserere’, co-written by Italian rock star Zucchero and Bono, and here recorded with chart-topping tenor and label-mate Andrea Bocelli. It was, in fact, the very same track that Bocelli had recorded as a demo for Zucchero to send to Pavarotti in 1992. Extremely impressed with Bocelli’s voice, Pavarotti urged Zucchero to use Bocelli instead of him! In the end Pavarotti did record the track, which became a huge hit, but it marked the beginning of Pavarotti and Bocelli’s friendship, and they went on to perform this duet together on stage. However, it was never released commercially, until now.
In its 90th anniversary year, Decca celebrates the enduring relationship between the legendary tenor and the historic label with the release of these two albums – these duets in particular providing a poignant reminder of Pavarotti’s compassion, humanity and spirit. Never before, or since, has an operatic superstar made friends and worked with so many comparable stars from the world of popular entertainment. That was the special genius of Pavarotti.
The global cinematic event from Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment, Imagine Entertainment and White Horse Pictures features never-before-seen footage, history-making performances, intimate interviews and cutting-edge Dolby Atmos technology.
Exclusive UK preview with satellite Q&A on 13th July for one night only.
In cinemas nationwide on 15th July. Released by Entertainment One UK.
Albums ‘Music From The Motion Picture: Pavarotti’ and ‘Pavarotti: The Greatest Hits’ (3CD) are released on Decca Classics to coincide.
“A great friend, a great voice and the world is a smaller place without the big man” – Sting
“His heavenly voice will be with us for a very long time” – Brian May
“Luciano is one of the great emotional arm wrestlers… he will break your f****** arm” – Bono