Opera's Golden Tenor

Luciano Pavarotti tops the scales in brilliance, bulk and brio

Don't you know that the tenor is a being apart ...? He is not a denizen of this world, he is a world in himself.

—Hector Berlioz

It was 1969. At the San Francisco Opera an Italian tenor named Luciano Pavarotti was singing the role of Rodolfo in La Bohème, Suddenly, midway through the third act, the entire theater seemed to rumble and shudder. Chandeliers began swaying. Members of the audience stood up in confusion; some bolted for the exits. "What is happening?" Pavarotti hissed to the prompter between...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!