Pavarotti, Luciano (1935- ), internationally famous Italian tenor, whose dramatic roles and powerful voice have gained him a superstar status akin to that of Enrico Caruso in the early years of the 20th century. He studied first in his birthplace, Modena, then in Mantua, before making his professional debut in Reggio nell'Emilia in 1961, as Rodolfo in La Bohme. His debut at Covent Garden in 1963 brought him to the attention of the Australian soprano Joan Sutherland and launched his international career. Pavarotti was to form a famous partnership with Sutherland: he was part of her company that toured Australia in 1965, learned much about breath support and flexible singing from her, and frequently sang Edgardo to her title role in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. The two made many recordings together, especially in Sutherland's core repertoire of Bellini and Donizetti. He made his debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera, again as Rodolfo, in 1968.
Pavarotti's ascent to superstardom came with the use of his recording of Puccini's aria "Nessun Dorma" as a television signature tune for the 1990 World Cup, and with an associated televised concert in Rome, with two other great tenors, Plcido Domingo and Jos Carreras. The "Three Tenors" concept was spiced by Pavarotti's history of sniping at Domingo during the 1980s, but the formula was so successful that the Tenors reunited for the 1994 World Cup, and on other later occasions. Unlike his collaborators, Pavarotti has made a speciality of stadium-sized recitals, singing to thousands with large screen video projection. Popular Neapolitan songs often feature in these concerts. Following the end of the Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian War, Pavarotti became well known in a new context as one of the most prominent supporters of the charity War Child. He succeeded in raising funds for the construction of the Pavarotti Music Centre in Mostar, which opened in December 1997 and aims to provide music and art therapy for the children of the war-ravaged city.
Pavarotti's vocal quality is full and open throughout his range; his penetrating high register is particularly admired. He is not a great actor, partly because his physique tends to restrict his movement on stage, and he suffered some critical failures in the 1990s, among them productions of Verdi's Otello and Don Carlos. His vocal colour and sheer communicativeness, however, have lost little as he has progressed into his seventh decade.