Saturday, 14 December 2019

‘Apollo 13’ director tackles opera giant

‘Apollo 13’ director tackles opera giant

SINCE swapping acting for directing four decades ago, Ron Howard has thrilled millions with such big-screen blockbusters as Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

He has also enthralled us with fact-based dramas like Rush, Frost/Nixon and A Beautiful Mind — for which he won the Oscar for best director in 2002.

Yet many cinemagoers may not know that he also makes documentaries — among them the 2013 concert film Made in America starring Jay-Z, Rita Ora and Run DMC and 2016’s The Beatles: Eight Days a Week.

Howard’s latest subject, the legendary Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, is a world away from the Fab Four, but in his own way he was every bit their equal, bestriding the world of opera like a figurative and literal colossus.

Born in Modena in 1935, this humble baker’s son rose from obscurity to conquer the globe with his outsized personality, astonishing voice and God-given talent.

Along the way he did much to make opera and classical music accessible to a worldwide mainstream audience, not least by teaming up with José Carreras and Placido Domingo to create the Three Tenors, and forming lasting friendships with U2’s Bono and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Andre Rieu, Andrea Bocelli and other contemporary stars have a lot to thank him for, and Classic FM, Radio 3 and Scala would struggle to fill their airtime without him.

Through archive material, interviews with friends and family, and excerpts of the great man in concert, Pavarotti will be the definitive documentary about a larger-than-life artist whose rise to the top was not without its share of personal and legal problems.

Twelve years on from his death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 71, it will also be the next best thing to seeing him live.

Aficionados and the uninitiated alike should prepare themselves for an immersive experience featuring footage from some of the greatest concerts and performances in modern history.

Rest assured, too, that you will get to hear Nessun Dorma, the Puccini aria that became Pavarotti’s breathtaking signature.

“Pavarotti’s life was replete with the highs and lows of great drama,” says Howard. “Like any compelling character, he was also a man of considerable contradictions.

“His artistic ambition, propelled by his massive talent and deep love for humanity, drove his career and the powerful bond with his audiences.”

Pavarotti is showing at the Regal Picturehouse cinema from tomorrow (Saturday).

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