Luciano Pavarotti: A film by Esther Schapira
Featuring contributions from Mirella Freni, Jose Carreras, Joseph Volpe, Bono and others
In English, German and Italian, with subtitles in English, German, French and Japanese
Region Code: 0; Aspect Ratio 16:9; PCM Stereo
EUROARTS 2058918 [film: 58:00; bonus interviews: 38:00]
This German language DVD adopts an almost exclusively biographical approach to Pavarotti’s life and career. For obvious reasons it spends most of its time in Modena, tracing the story of his youth and his first big break. Refreshingly, it interviews lots of Modenese who were friends of the tenor and his family. We get a few shots of his holiday home in Pesaro, then and now. It has a few talking heads to comment on the general narrative, too.

Mirella Freni, his oldest friend, shares some stories about their background and what it was like to sing with him. Most interestingly, his first wife, Adua, is featured a lot, giving the low-down on their family life and telling the story of what it was like when she found out about his affairs. She says she has more good memories of him than bad, though the acrimony with Nicoletta, his second wife, is still there; Adua only consented to be in the film if Nicoletta was not interviewed.

Other talking heads include Joseph Volpe, John Copley and, briefly, Jose Carreras, who give interesting insights into working with him. These mostly involve personal anecdotes. Bono turns up a few times too, though he does nothing here to build up his reputation for erudition and insightfulness. On the whole, though, the film as a whole is pretty ordinary, verging on the dull. The makers have plenty of material but they don’t seem able to thread it together into a narrative that is compelling. The one time they come closest is when various participants speak of Pavarotti’s ultimate loneliness, but then this is swept over with little comment.

Most damagingly, the film offers no analysis of his career or musicianship beyond the very trite, and that’s a real missed opportunity. I’m afraid there is nothing here that would make me want to see it again.
Simon Thompson
Nothing here that would make me want to see this again.