No stranger to music documentaries after bringing The Beatles: Eight Days a Week to the big screen in 2016, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard returns to the documentary scene with Pavarotti; a film about iconic Italian operatic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, which follows his life and his decorated music career. Told through his own words via personal family videos, and through the shared video confessions from his former flames, old colleagues, admirers, friends and loved ones, it is evident that both Luciano Pavarotti’s professional music career and his personal life were never truly separated.
I was interested in this film as growing up, I remember my parents listening to The Three Tenors, a supergroup of tenors, which Luciano Pavarotti was a part of with his fellow operatic friends, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. And I remember loving Luciano Pavarotti’s beautiful voice normally, but especially when he sung Turandot aria, “Nessun Dorma”. Luciano Pavarotti made opera music popular, commercial even. It was because of him I had my first introduction to opera music. And to no surprise, the world loved him too.
This was including director Ron Howard and it shows, choosing to graze past Pavarotti’s life mistakes and indiscretions to pay more attention to Pavarotti’s good qualities and talents. The film never shies away from keeping Pavrotti’s identity as a singer in the foreground, yet still managing to paint the opera icon as a kind-hearted and humble man who is ultimately just human; displaying his passion for charity, his passion for food, his desire for love, and the sacrifice of his life to music.
Even though I was a bit taken aback by Pavarotti’s past mistakes, the film is quick to remind the viewer of the opera singer’s generosity, humour, his infectious smile and his larger-than-life endearing personality. Making the viewer, myself included, quick to forgive.
Hearing the voice of a man long gone, 12 years after his death, it was strange to hear and discover Luciano Pavarotti’s life regrets. I felt guilty, dirty even, as if these confessions of his were supposed to be kept buried, and that I was wrong to witness how raw and exposed he was when he was privately recorded. But because of these exact confessions from the man himself, the film made Luciano Pavarotti relatable, real and hard not to love, as I am sure he would have also been when he was still alive.
So, even though this documentary may sugar-coat the life of this very talented music artist and could have dived a little bit deeper into the scandals that headlined when he was alive, I left the cinema happy and still loving and admiring one of the greatest opera singers of our time, just as much as I did as a child.
If you have even remotely heard of Luciano Pavarotti, or if you love the theatre – this documentary film is for you. Pavarotti is in cinemas now.