From The Washington Post:
Luciano Pavarotti, 71, who died last night of pancreatic cancer at his home in Modena, Italy, combined a lustrous lyric tenor voice with a radiant and expansive personal charm to win the largest and most diversified audience ever accorded an opera singer.
Luciano Pavarotti was born Oct. 12, 1935, in Modena, a city renowned for its love of opera. Even his father, a baker by trade, sang tenor in local productions. His mother labored in a cigarette factory with the mother of soprano Mirella Freni, who became a frequent leading lady to Pavarotti on world stages. Standing over six feet tall and somewhat athletic in his youth, Pavarotti excelled in soccer as a young man. He gravitated to opera as a profession and was good enough to qualify for voice training at Modena’s Istituto Magistrale, which he said saved him from his mother’s attempt to make him into an accountant.
He taught elementary school and sold insurance while vying in opera competitions. Among his early instructors were Modena tenor Arrigo Pola, who sensed his brilliance and taught him for free, and Ettore Campogalliani in the city of Mantua. Pavarotti underwent intensive regimens on posture, spending six months alone on how to hold his jaw. After several misses, Pavarotti won an opera contest in 1961 and made his debut that year as Rodolfo in “La Boh?me.” After years touring Europe, he made his American debut in 1965 with the Greater Miami Opera in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” when he substituted for another tenor at the last minute.