Even those who knew little about the finer points of opera knew Luciano Pavarotti.
The ebullient tenor, who died Thursday at age 71 after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer, was regarded as both a master of his art and the most be- loved and well known opera star since Enrico Caruso. While even his fans contended that others, including his chief rival, Placido Domingo, may have been better musicians and more technically proficient, Pavarotti brought a beauty and warmth to his performances that could not be duplicated.
Pavarotti also helped broaden the popularity of opera among the general public, notably through appearances with the Three Tenors -- Pavarotti, Domingo and Jose Carreras. He scoffed at those who complained that he was commercializing opera with the Three Tenors extravaganzas. Those concerts ultimately reached 1.5 billion people, filling stadiums and enticing viewers of the filmed concerts.
And Pavarotti also managed to embody everyone's idea of what a world-class tenor should look and act like. He was large of girth, bearded and flamboyant in dress and manner.
Pavarotti said in a quote posted after his death: "I think a life in music is a life beautifully spent."
We're grateful he chose to share that life and love of music with the world.