Directed by Ron Howard
Featuring Luciano Pavarotti, Bono, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras
One of the greatest operatic tenors of all time gets the documentary treatment with Pavarotti, delving into the greatness of his talent and the spread of his international success, making for an inspiring yet dramatically light story of his life. This may mostly be a documentary for the fans of the man, but even if you don’t like opera, Pavarotti will force you to be a fan when it showcases his immense, alluring talent.
For a musician, Pavarotti never exactly led the hardcore rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, full of debauchery, drug abuse, infidelity, throwing televisions out of windows and all that – his only excessive vice was pasta. There’s not much in his life itself that offers up much of a story, with this documentary just showing him to be a very pleasant and very cheery person who was a joy to be around.
Instead, Pavarotti spends more time immersing itself in his career, showing his rare early show-stealing performances in operas before he commanded the attention of all in the opera world with his solo arias, where his astoundingly powerful voice brought him meteoric success with one legendary performance after another.
It also shows his later career diversions, along with a not-so-successful merging of opera and pop in a joint performance with Sting (with this pop star enjoyably, but embarrassingly working out of his vocal style), and a more successful merging of opera and rock with a joint performance with U2, a charity song that managed to combine the tenderness of the music of both musical acts.
Pavarotti is able to get intimate with its talking heads interviewees, with the likes of his wives, daughters, collaborators, and protégés all weighing in on the man, though there’s nothing surprising or shocking to be revealed. With not much investigation into the life of an artist and what deep and innate qualities they bring to their art, Pavarotti is more than anything an excuse to see the greatest hits of the man in a cinema.
This is a case of ‘the man maketh the documentary’ – it’s the incredible and earth-shattering talent of this man that makes such a film worth watching, though without it, this documentary would obviously be worthless. His work on display here just might be able to create some new fans, but for the ones who have been listening to his astounding voice for years and decades, it is a treat.