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October 12

Luciano Pavarotti

Late in his career, Pavarotti was one of the Three Tenors, a trio of singers who bonded classical and pop music into a crowd-pleasing whole.

Oleg Nikishin, 2003 Getty Images

1935: King of the High C's
Luciano Pavarotti is born in Modena, Italy
Performing with his father Fernando, a teenage Luciano Pavarotti won an international singing competition in Wales. This accomplishment set the stage for a lifetime of vocal artistry for this world-famous tenor. Pavarotti exposed countless listeners to the wonders of opera and other types of classical vocal music. Incidentally, certain operatic roles—like Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Boheme—became forever linked to the man and his voice.

His gift combined deep expressivity, stellar technique, and the ability to meld opera into pop culture. During a performance of La Fille du Regiment in 1972, Pavarotti received 17 curtain calls, in part for the stunning high Cs he could effortlessly hit. Pavarotti, who set the standard for operatic tenors, was celebrated as a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2001.
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