Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti was the most well-known opera singer of his lifetime. The son of an amateur tenor, Luciano Pavarotti gave up a career in teaching in the mid-1950s and, after years of study, began his professional singing career in 1961. His force of personality and seemingly effortless ability to hit and hold a high C made Pavarotti a crowd favorite, and during the 1970s and '80s his TV performances helped make him one of the few singers whose celebrity extended beyond the opera house. His rendition of "Nessun Dorma" (from Giacomo Puccini's Turandot) was used as the theme song of the World Cup in 1990 and became a minor hit record (as well as Pavarotti's signature song). Throughout the 1990s Pavarotti maintained his star status with frequent performances, including as one of "The Three Tenors" in concerts with fellow opera greats Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. He also made headlines for show cancellations and periodic health problems. His last performance at New York's Metropolitan Opera House was in 2004, and after 2005 his health declined due to pancreatic cancer. Possibly the most celebrated opera singer who ever lived, Luciano Pavarotti died a few weeks before his 72nd birthday.
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