PAVAROTTI : WHEN HE WAS GOOD


When He Was Good

By TERRY TEACHOUT

Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2007; Page P7

How will Luciano Pavarotti be remembered? If you saw him onstage in the last decade of his life, you saw a self-parody of a great singer gone to seed. His once-lustrous voice was in sad decline, and his bad knee and increasing weight made it hard for him to get around the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House without discreet assistance. Yet he kept on singing, and each performance was (usually) worse than the last. “I don’t want my last memories of Pavarotti to be embarrassing, and if he keeps on like this for much longer, that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” I wrote after a 1997 recital. So it did, to my sorrow.


The Pavarotti I wanted to remember was the one I heard give a recital in Kansas City, Mo., in the ’70s. Back then and for many years afterward, his pointed tone and crisp diction brought every phrase he sang to glowing life. I suspect that Pavarotti was at his best on the concert stage, for even when he was capable of getting around on his own, he never was much of an actor. Like many opera singers, he was also an uninteresting interpreter, which is another way of saying that he was primarily concerned with making beautiful sounds. As he grew older, he cultivated the relentlessly cheerful, handkerchief-waving manner that delighted his audiences while simultaneously undermining the dramatic plausibility of the operas in which he appeared. By the time I first saw him at the Met in the late ’80s, he reminded me more often than not of a friendly stagehand who’d wandered onstage in the middle of an opera and decided to make the best of it. In recital, by contrast, all he really had to do was stand there and sing, and he very often did so to something like perfection.

See photographs of the tenors angling to take Mr. Pavarotti’s spot atop the opera pyramid and listen to them sing.

On record you got the voice without the handkerchief, and when there was somebody smart on the podium, you might also get a performance that was musically memorable. That’s why the recording by which I will always remember Pavarotti was the version of Puccini’s “La Bohème” that he recorded in 1972 with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic (Decca, two CDs). Karajan was, needless to say, a musical tyrant of the first order, and in 1972 Pavarotti wasn’t yet in a position to refuse to take orders from Europe’s most famous (and feared) conductor. Yet Karajan also loved and understood beautiful voices, and when it suited him, he was capable of accompanying them with near-telepathic sensitivity.


The Pavarotti/Karajan “Bohème” is a veritable festival of resplendent lyricism, nowhere more so than in “Che gelida manina,” the tenor’s big first-act aria. In it you get everything that made Pavarotti great: the sunlit high C, the touch of metal in a basically warm and tender voice, the cracklingly vital way with the Italian language. Listen to him sing the lines “Che son? Sono un poeta./Che cosa faccio? Scrivo./E come vivo? Vivo.” That means Who am I? I’m a poet. What do I do? I write. And how do I live? I live. When Pavarotti sings it, you believe every word, in a way I rarely did when I saw him in the theater. In addition, though, you also get an “accompaniment” that is as carefully thought out as a performance of a Mozart symphony, and Pavarotti responds gratefully to it, soaking up Karajan’s profound musicality like a human sponge.


The whole album is like that, never more so than in the comic parts of what is, after all, a light-hearted opera with a wrenchingly unhappy ending. I always thought Pavarotti was at his best in comedy — it was hard to buy so self-evidently happy a man as a tragic figure — and with Karajan at the helm, this innate tendency is intensified. The whole first scene in particular is a masterpiece of bubbling wit and razor-sharp timing, the kind of performance capable of turning anyone into an opera buff. If Pavarotti had done nothing else, this “Bohème” would have won him a place in the history books.


But he did many other things in the 35 years that followed, and many of them were far beside the point of his artistry. Herbert Breslin, the high-powered manager who helped make Pavarotti a star, bragged about that achievement in the tell-all memoir he wrote after they parted company: “I kept him in front of the public with one performance, one event, one ‘first’ after another. First U.S. recital, first ‘Live From the Met’ broadcast, first solo recital from the Metropolitan Opera stage, first American Express commercial, first solo concert in a 20,000-seat arena. . . . I brought that tenor out of the opera house and into the arms of an enormous mass public.” It says much about both men that this list gives equal time to a recital debut and a TV commercial.


It was because Pavarotti wanted to be more than just an opera singer that he clambered onto the mass-media career path that led him to the humiliating performances of his final years. They are as much a part of his story as the 1972 “Bohème,” and to ignore them is to be less than honest about an artist who too often failed to live up to his prodigal gifts. Still, every artist deserves in the end to be remembered for the best that was in him, and when Pavarotti was at his best, there was nobody better.

 

Mr. Teachout, the Journal’s drama critic, is the music critic of Commentary.

LUCIANO PAVAROTTI


images-1 
THE RISE AND THE FALL OF PAVAROTTI      (CLICK TO LISTEN)High “C”  When He Was Goodand his misery in “Its the man’s world”  where James Brown was brilliant and his savior.

O sole mio (1)” in 1992 at the beginning of decline 

 and “O sole mio (2)” in 2008

LUCIANO PAVAROTTI OWES HIS WEALTH AND FAME AMONG COMMON PEOPLE TO THE LOSS OF HIS VOICE. HIS VOICE GRADUALLY DETERIORATED  AFTER 1990, AND DURING HIS LAST YEARS, HE WAS UNABLE TO SING EVEN THE MOST BASIC ARIAS. IT IS OF INTEREST THAT HIS FAME AND WEALTH INCREASED DURING THIS TIME. PUBLIC DID NOT KNOW OR CARE ABOUT HIM WHEN HE WAS THE “MASTER SINGER”, HOWEVER THEY ADMIRED HIM THROUGH HIS HORRIBLE “THREE TENORS” SHOWS IN PARKS AND STADIUMS WHEN HE PERFORMED POPULAR SONGS LIKE “O SOLE MIO” OR “THIS IS MAN’S WORLD”.

LUCIANO PAVAROTTI ZENGİNLİĞİNİ VE ÜNÜNÜ SESİNİ KAYBETMESİNE BORÇLUDUR.
PAVAROTTİ 1990 Lİ YILLARDAN SONRA GİDEREK ARTAN BİR ŞEKİLDE SESİNİ YİTİRMİŞ, HELE SON YILLARINDA EN BASİT ARYAYI BİLE SÖYLEYEMİYECEK DURUMA GELMİŞTİ.
İLGİNÇTİR Kİ, PAVAROTTİ’NİN ŞÖHRETİNİN EN ÇOK ARTTIĞI VE DE EN ÇOK PARA KAZANDIĞI DÖNEM BU SESİNİ KAYBETTİĞİ DÖNEMDİR. AHALİMİZ, KENDİNDEN BEKLENDİĞİ ÜZERE, DÜNYANIN EN BÜYÜK TENORU OLDUĞU DÖNEMLERDE PAVAROTTİ’Yİ İPLEMEMİŞ , NE ZAMAN Kİ GARİBİM SESİNİ YİTİRMEYE BAŞLAYIP DA ÇARESİZLİĞİNDEN, “O SOLE MIO” YA DA YUKARIDAKİ “THIS IS A MAN’S WORLD” GİBİ ŞARKILAR SÖYLEMEYE SOYUNMUŞ, İŞTE O ZAMAN HIZLA HALKIMIZIN GÖZÜNE GİRİVERMİŞTİR.
TİMUR

TEMEL’İN EŞEKLERİ VE OBAMA

Altın saçsam obama
Hırsız girmez odama
‘Van minut’ dedik diye
Koştu geldi Obama
Fikir uçuşmaları, ve Temel’in eşekleri ve Obama

Temel’imizin iki adet eşeği olmakla, birini yekdiğerinden ayırmaktan aciz, “nitsek de ha pu eşekleri ayırapilsek uşaklar ?..ikiz kardaş misali aynular da.. isim bile yakıştıramamaktayüz vay başımıza..” diyerekten kıvranırken, Dursun’dur feryada amade seyirtip, “Temelcuum..ha pirinün kuyruğunun ucundan azcık kesesun daa” demesiyle, hakketen yaman faydasını görmüş ise dahi, kuyruktur, iki aya kalmadan yeniden evveli haline uzmasıyla, Temel’imizi yeniden efkar sarmış idi.
Temel’imizin kadim yoldaşı “iyi ki varsın” Dursun ise imdaduna yetişmekle yine nûs (nasihat) eylemiş, “ha pu eşeklerin birusunun boyu mutlak diğerundan kısadur.. ölçüversen mutlak ayırırsun birbirundan ki.. oh ne güzel.. ” diyerekten efkar (fikirler) salmış, Temel’miz dahi eşeklerin boyunu cetvele vurmasıyla, ziyade bir sevince duçar olup , “uyy be Tursuncuum, ula sen dâhi misun nesün..? ula pu ne güzel akıllardur daa.. ula Hz. Einstein senin yanında kaç paradur daa..ula essahtan siyah eşek beyaz eşekten iki santim taha uzundur daa !!..” diyerekten feryatlanıp, göbek ataraktan horon dönmüş idi.
Amerika imparatorluğu basına “Obama ve Biden” ikilisinin seçilmesiyle Türkiye’miz gazetelerindeki yazı bolluğu, Amerikan gazetelerinin dahi kat be kat üzerindedir ki, anlayana ne ibretler vardır bu işte.
Basınımız şövalyeleri, tarihin en yaman Türkiye karşıtı ikilisinin seçimine neden anlamadan ya da anlayarak şıkıdım dönüp göbek atmaktalar bakalım ?
Obama’nın yüzde elli “beyaz” ırktan olduğu halde, “siyah” sayılması nedendir bakalım ? Geleneksel ırkçı inancına hürmeten, 1/16 zenci geni taşısanız dahi “zenci”siniz Amerika’da da onun için. Ve dahi, Obama’dır, “özüm gayetle zenciyim” deyip renk seçimini ayan ettiği için.
Arap köle tacirlerinin gayreti ile, Afrika ahalisinden çalınıp okyanus aşırı taşınanların pek çoğu tarlada çalışırken, tarla eshabı (sahipleri), eli yüzü düzgün olup da, aklı daha çok olan zencileri seçip evlerinde hizmetçi ve de uşak olarak hafif işlerde çalıştırdıklarından, ve dahi bunlardan nice gayri meşru evlat edinerek genlerini şallak mallak etmeyle, deri renklerini dahi az biraz beyzaya (beyaz) doğru açtıklarından, hatta bunlara okuma yazmayı dahi öğrettiklerinden, kölelik bittiğinde ise, bu beyazımtrak zenci kısmı siyahların yüzde beşinden azını yapsalar dahi, deri rengi daha koyu olanların başına “aristokrasi” olmakla ceplerini doldurmuşlar, dahası, yok “bir rüyam var” yok “değişiklik gerek” nidalarıyla şimdicik en tepelere taşınmışlardır..
Vampir öykülerinin usta yazarı Anne Rice’ın “The Feast of All Saints” kitabını okumayanlar bari filmini izleseler, muradımız daha iyi anlaşılır.
Obama’nın ise kölelikle katiyyen ilgisi olmayıp Konya’lı değil de Kenya’lı (Fatih Altaylı’dan) olan babasının kısa bir süre Amerika’yı ziyaret ettiği bir sıra, beyza anasını nikahına (!) alması sonucu peydahlandığı için, bu aristokrasiye kestirmeden katılıp senatör seçilmiş, ve dahi kısa bir sürede milyoner olmuş idi.
Aday olduğunda ise, silah satıcıları ve hırsız bankerler göbek atıp, “oh ne güzel, bu yiğit adeta ikinci bir puşt (“Bush” okunur).. ha punu başkan seçtirelim de Temel’in eşekleri misali, hiç kimesne farkı görmesin..” diyerekten, McCain’e verdiklerinin 5 katını “barışsever !” Obama’ya vermişler, Türk basınının şövalyelerinin dahi bu göbek oyununa katılmasının yolunu açmışlar idi.
Suların menekşelendiği erken akşamın güney semalarında Jüpiter’i ve aynı anda güney batıda ışıldayan Venüs (Çulpan) gezegenini izlerseniz tüm bu olanların anlamsızlığını anlar huzura erişirsiniz be yaran.
Ekimizde Rick Krejci nam arkadaşın “İRİS” bulütsü görüntüsünü göndermekteyiz ki, dikkat ile izlendikte, İRİS’in “Obama seçilse n’oluuur.. seçilmese no’lur” dediğini duyarsınız da kulaklarınız bayram eder.
Uzaya bir baksanız hayat görüşünüz değişir.
Gözleriniz hep yükseklerde olsun.
Fakir-i pür taksir,
Timur Sümer