Faked performance still proved artistic talent
At the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics on Feb. 10 that year, Luciano Pavarotti delivered the aria, "Nessun Dorma" (None Shall Sleep), from Giacomo Puccini's opera "Turandot."
"I shall win! I shall win!" sang Pavarotti, and this column marveled that his voice, reverberating under the cold night sky, was still as incredibly powerful as at the height of his career, or, as the writer said at the time, "at least from how it sounded on television."
Thirteen days later, Japanese figure skater Shizuka Arakawa skated to the same aria to win her gold medal.
But it has come to light that Pavarotti's performance that night was lip-synced. This revelation must have deprived some fans of sleep for a while.
Leone Magiera, Pavarotti's longtime colleague and conductor, revealed in his recently released book that both the singing and the orchestra had been pre-recorded for the opening ceremony.
I checked the performance's video tape. Pavarotti is gripping a white handkerchief in his left hand, and his signature eyebrows are working expressively, as his mouth forms a large "O."
"The King of the High C's" was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer four months later, and died in September 2007 at the age of 71. Apparently, he was already in pain by the time of the Turin Olympics.
Because of his condition on the opening night, according to Magiera, it was decided that the taped versions of the singing and the orchestra--recorded separately a few days before--would be used.
This became Pavarotti's final big performance. When it ended amid thunderous applause and cheering, he blew kisses with his right hand.
I wonder if this was a gesture of relief at completing this important mission in his native country "without incident," or gratitude, apology and farewell to Muse.
For this opera superstar who could mesmerize hundreds of thousands of people in a single outdoor concert, perhaps lip-syncing was a shameful thing to do.
However, I don't think this changes the fact that he "won" all the same.
I wouldn't defend his action openly, but he did mesmerize hundreds of millions of people around the world that night. "And that," I mouth the words to myself, "takes superlative artistic talent."
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 11(IHT/Asahi: April 12,2008)