Pavarotti Remembered

Mike Wallace Looks Back At His Profiles Of The Legendary Tenor

The music world lost one of its greats this past week. Luciano Pavarotti's extraordinary talent, coupled with a larger-than-life persona, transcended the opera stage. His voice and smile were a fixture in soccer stadiums, concert halls and Olympic ceremonies for a generation.

Mike Wallace looks back at two 60 Minutes conversations with the great tenor. Wallace first interviewed him in 1993, when some said Pavarotti was already in the twilight of his career. But nine years later, in 2002, Pavarotti still wasn't ready for that final curtain when Wallace visited him again, this time on the Caribbean island of Barbados.



"It's 40 days I'm staying here in this house, yes, with my friend, the beach, the sun and nobody else. A lot of company," the tenor told Wallace.

In 1993, Pavarotti said he was spending 10 months of the year on the road; nine years later he was talking to Wallace during a six-week beach vacation. "I am 10 years older, and in this 10 years, I realize that taking time for yourself is not bad, not bad at all," he said.

How was the tenor feeling?

"I feel here, with all my friends, with you, what can I feel? Sensational?" Pavarotti said.

And one big reason he was feeling sensational was Nicoletta Mantovani, the young woman he met in the summer of 1993, the same summer Wallace first sat down with Pavarotti.

In 1993, there were already whispers in the opera world that the twilight of this superstar's career was upon him. Back then, when Wallace and Pavarotti sat down together, the tenor acknowledged that he was feeling the pressure of the critics and the doubters.

Asked how bad the pressure is, truthfully, Pavarotti said, "I think it's an enjoyment; I don't think it's a job. It's not a profession; it is an enjoyment. I'm telling you the truth."

"Otherwise, I would not do now at my age, when everybody is trying to kill me. Every newspaper is there ready to say when I'm going to die, and I do that," Pavarotti added.

And then there were the fans. "If you do something wrong they can protest; they can boo you," the tenor said.

And at La Scala in Milan, that's exactly what happened. Pavarotti failed to hit the high notes in the second act of "Don Carlos." His voice cracked.

The applause one heard didn't come from the loggionisti -- those temperamental fans who sat in the upper balconies booed. It's a reaction Pavarotti almost never received. The occasion was the opening of the opera season before the president of Italy. It was a miserable humiliation.

Who are among the loggionisti?

"I think they are people that, they live to go to the opera every night," Pavarotti told Wallace. "They give all their love to the opera. They think that they are the ultimate judge of what is going to happen there. And they think to have the right to applause or to boo. And if you want to know my opinion, they are right."

Asked if he was hurt about the speculation that he is entering the twilight of his career or that he is lazy, Pavarotti admitted, "You want to know something? I am lazy."

The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App