A slimmed-down Pavarotti sings with youthful vigor

Cassiel C. MacAvity

    Robert A. Masullo. McClatchy News Service, 1988/6/11

    Text transcribed by Cassiel C. MacAvity.

    There is, indeed, a new Luciano Pavarotti. Unveiled Wednesday evening to 7,000 enthusiasts in the Civic Auditorium, it proved to be even more popular than the old one.

    To begin with, the new model has sleeker lines. Eighty-five pounds lighter, it bounds where the older one used to lumber. Make no mistake, the new Pavarotti is far from a compact. There is more than adequate heft to conquer the highest hill with ease.

    But there is a jauntiness, a youthful vigor under the hood. This Pavarotti is a true Italian sports model, never mind if the registration says it is 52. It purrs like a tiger.

    The new Pavarotti has more torque. Down low, it produces soul-pleasing amber tones. Yet up high, nothing has been lost. Its output on the steepest peak still has the purity of a 15-year old choir boy.

    The new model was taken for a demonstration drive over a challenging but largely familiar route, covering the Italian countryside with brief detours into France and Germany.

    It polished off the Verdian hills ("La mia letizia infondere" of "I Lombardi" and "Ah, si, ben mio . . . di quella pira" of "Il Trovatore") without having to be shifted out of first.

    The road team (members of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra with Leone Magiera as flagman), however, spurted ahead a car length or so a couple of times, making the Pavarotti appear less attractive than it actually is.

    Andrea Griminelli, driving a golden flute, provided two amusing side trips.

    Puccini's wildly twisting "Tosca" valleys ("Recondita armonia" and "E lucevan le stelle") were crossed briskly with perfect traction. These were the roads for which the original Pavarotti was built.

    Von Flotow's "Ach, so fromm" (of "Martha"), the lone German excursion, was given a set of Italian slipcovers (making it "M'appari") and handled by the new Pavarotti with utmost grace.

    In Massenet's France, {"Pourquoi me reveiller" of "Werther.") the vehicle adapted perfectly to native conditions. Using the local idiom, it maintained a lovely fluid line and moderate pace for most of the tour. Yet it crossed the finish line with brilliant power and flair.

    Back in Italy, the sky and sea ("Cielo e mar" of Ponchielli's "La Gioconda") provided a dramatic background for the conclusion of the scheduled part of the tour. The new Pav displayed some of the niftiest cornering imaginable.

    In high gear the vehicle reflected the the spirit and beauty of the older Pavarotti, while in low gear there was a roar that the older model had not been capable of producing.

    Pavarotti enthusiasts were so pleased by the demonstration that they insisted on three more spins. They were given the equivalent of amusement-park bumper-car rides: a Puccini plum (out of "La Boheme") and a pair of sugary Neapolitan treats ("O Sole Mio" and "Torna Surriento")

    They went berserk over each.

    The driver of the new Pavarotti dedicated the bon-bons to Terence McEwen, soon-to-be retired general manager of the San Francisco Opera and a well-known admirer of the Pavarotti since the first model rolled off the assembly line years ago.


© Cassiel C. MacAvity