Film Review: PAVAROTTI (USA 2019) ***1/2

Pavarotti Poster

A look at the life and work of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti.


Ron Howard


Cassidy Hartmann (consulting writer), Mark Monroe

PAVAROTTI is one famous opera tenor that everyone has heard of – even though he has passed away in 2007 from pancreatic cancer.  PAVAROTTI is arguably one of the most famous tenors ever lived.  PAVAROTTI is director Ron Howard’s doc and from the tone of the film, his tribute to the great singer.

Ron Howard’s PAVAROTTI is a riveting documentary that lifts the curtain on Luciano Pavarotti, the icon who brought opera to the people.  At the film’s start, the audience sees the man travelling to the Amazon in South America to bring opera to an obscure part of he world.  Pavarotti is credited with introducing an “elite art form to the masses.”  (The film is from the same team behind the acclaimed The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.)

  Documentaries about famous celebrities follow the same outline.  There is a story of the celebrity’s background, where he came from, his influences how he became famous and the good he or she has done for mankind.  As with every person in life, there would be a downfall, usually the larger the celebrity, the larger the downward spiral.  Then there is the redemption or climb back to normalcy.  Howard’s PAVAROTTI follows the same pattern.

Director Howard question at the film’s start Pavarotti’s gift.  Is it a purpose or a burden?  The film sets out to reveal the answer.

The film thus traces Pavarotti’s earliest beginnings to the very last days of his life,
the film following the renowned tenor over the course of his prolific career.  It features history-making performances, intimate interviews, never-before seen footage and previously
unknown details about one of the beloved entertainers of all time.

The film’s highlight are, expectedly Pavarotti’s performances especially the concerts.  He organized the 3 tenors (himself together with Plácido Domingo and José Carreras)..  The concerts with the three opera singers singing their best make the film’s best segment.  Other highlights include the concert in the rain in the United Kingdom attended by the then still living Princess Diana.  The weather did not cooperate with the concert organizers.  So it was announced during the open air performance for the audience to close their umbrellas despite the rain so that the view of the stage will not be blocked.  Everyone ended up having a great time despite getting wet.  The shot of Pavarotti together with Princess Diana is unforgettable.

Pavarotti’s rendering of Puccini’s famous song in “La Turandot’ marks the best of all the singer’s performances.  Watch the film  in proper theatrical sound as in cutting-edge Dolby Atmos sound (that was used in the press screening attended).

As for the celebrity’s downfall, director Howard  concentrates on the man’s weakness for women.  While being married, he flirted around, finally finding his true love with Nicoletta Mantovani and having a daughter before being diagnosed with cancer.  Howard concentrates more on the singer’s good deeds, like helping the poor especially the children, particularly organizing benefit concerts with other famous people, including rock starts to help the poor and unfortunate.

PAVAROTTI ends up superlative entertainment even for non-opera fans.  It ends up too study of a man with talent and how this man or for that matter, any person with a gift can and should use it to help mankind.


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