WRTI Spotlight
9:49 am
Tue January 1, 2008

Pavarotti in Archival <i>La Boh?me</i> Met Opera Performance that Launched Him to Superstar Status

Tune to WRTI on Saturday, January 19th, when the Metropolitan Opera will broadcast a historic performance of Puccini's La Boh?me, starring the late Luciano Pavarotti with the legendary Renata Scotto, conducted by Maestro James Levine. Originally broadcast on March 19, 1977, this performance was the inaugural Live from the Met telecast that turned Pavarotti into an American superstar.

Pavarotti went on to sing in 21 Met Opera telecasts and also made several recordings with the Met. This broadcast will honor the memory of Luciano Pavarotti, and intermissions will include archived interviews and reminiscences with backstage people who worked with him.

The first Live from the Met telecast in 1977 created a sensation and forever changed the perception and impact of opera. That performance of La Boh?me, featuring Renata Scotto as Mimi and Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo with a young James Levine conducting, attracted the largest audience ever for televised opera up to that point. Pavarotti, who had previously been well known internationally, suddenly found that he was a superstar. In an interview years later, he told Opera News that the day after the telecast people stopped him on the street. "That was when I realized the importance of bringing opera to the masses," he said. "I think there were people [watching] who didn't know what opera was before."

Rodolfo was the first operatic role Pavarotti ever sang in public, in Reggio Emilia, Italy in 1961. Within a few years the world would take notice whenever he walked onto a stage. This Saturday afternoon radio broadcast, recorded four days after the historic telecast with the same cast, captures the young Pavarotti in his prime, with all the qualities he was famous for in evidence: crystalline tone, perfect diction, elegant phrasing, and stunning vocal colors.

Listen to the 1977 archival Metropolitan Opera performance of La Boh?me on Saturday, January 19, at 1:30 pm on WRTI.

La Boh?me Facts:

World premiere: Turin, Teatro Regio, February 1, 1896

U.S premiere: Los Angeles, October 14, 1897

Metropolitan Opera premiere: December 26, 1900

* Excerpts of this article were provided courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera