* * * ½
Director Ron Howard does an excellent job of telling Luciano Pavarotti's life story in this two-hour documentary that covers all the bases. Using old black and white photos, talking heads, concert videos and news clips, he captures the whirlwind life of one of the greatest performers with one of the greatest voices. If you like opera and classic performances, you will not be disappointed with the emphasis placed on the music.
We learn about Pavarotti's upbringing in Italy, his family life as more and more time is spent away from his wife and three daughters as his popularity grew around the world. The tenor is seen in a number of interviews over the years, always smiling and willing to answer any question. His love for life and for people, especially women, is evident throughout his long career. We witness his weakness for women and see how it affected his personal life. We watch the changes in his performances as he leaves the opera stages and moves to the concert stages, reaching out to bigger audiences.
I remember watching the Three Tenors televised concert from Italy and especially enjoyed the utter joy on the three tenors as they unselfishly shared the stage.
Bigger than life; a man for all ages and all people; a man who needed to be surrounded by people, and yet a man who was demanding and at times difficult. The up-close film work is classic. I had forgotten the great charity work that he did in his later years, founding a foundation that still exists long after his death. His work with Bono and other musicians is documented at the end during the credits.
In his later years he was criticized by some for abandoning his operatic background to embrace all kinds of music, including rock. His voice had faltered some and pancreatic cancer took him from us at age 71.
Howard shows, rather than tells, us the man and his music. And what music he gave us!
Raged PG-13. At the Avon.