The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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King of high notes ready to retire

Modena (Italy), Dec. 1 (Reuters): Luciano Pavarotti, whose effortless tenor voice and powerful stage presence dominated opera for decades, plans to bow out like a superstar with a 40-city tour that will end with his retirement.

In an interview, the singer who started in a church choir at the age of five and became known as 'The king of the high C's,' said he will bring down the curtain on a 43-year career with an international tour taking him from the Balkans to Buenos Aires via London, Paris and New York.

'The tour is long but I never perform like a rock star night after night. I shall do a maximum of two or three concerts a month,' he said of his global finale that could take him well past his 70th birthday next October. 'It is exactly 43 years I have been going around here and there. Sometimes I don't know which bed I am waking up in,' he said.

But now the ink is dry on the contract he signed with British producer Harvey Goldsmith. When pressed, Pavarotti cannot put a date on when the tour will end or where. 'I don't know. When they are finished, I am finished.'

Pavarotti, sitting in the dining room of his surprisingly modest apartment in the heart of his hometown in Northern Italy, was in a philosophical and expansive form. Living for today is his motto.

'Yesterday I held auditions for young singers. A few days before I sung in Mexico. Tomorrow I begin rehearsals for the opera I am directing in Italy but today is the day that is important.'

With over 100 million albums sold, Pavarotti is the most successful classical artist in the history of the recording industry and popularised opera in the Three Tenors concerts with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. But he said: 'I would very much like to be remembered as a very serious opera singer.'

Pavarotti left his wife of 37 years to marry his former assistant who is 30 years his junior. Their apartment is cluttered with the toys of their one-year-old daughter Alice.

Pavarotti freely admits to being putty in the child's hands: 'She has possessed me. I am her subject, a slave.'

Reflecting on his career, he did admit to one regret ' never singing with Maria Callas. He singled out Germany's Herbert von Karajan as the greatest conductor and lavished praise on Australian diva Joan Sutherland for teaching him how to breathe as a singer.

London's Royal Opera House ranked as the most important for launching his career in the 1960s while New York's Metropolitan Opera House was simply referred to as 'My Home.' It was at the Met in 1972 that he gave one of his most famous performances ' that of Tonio in Daughter of the Regiment in which he hit nine high C's in a row.

When it comes to that last aria on that last night of the tour, he is undecided. 'If you end like you begin, then I would say La Boheme. It is my first love. But there is Nessun Dorma which is almost a trademark. I was very lucky in my life. I always chose masterpieces.'

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