Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Pavarotti: No One Slept in 1990

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Pavarotti: No One Slept in 1990

Article excerpt

Remember 1990? The unravelling of the Soviet Union, apartheid disintegrating in South Africa, Thatcher ousted?

Nothing seemed impossible and the theme tune of that summer was an opera aria suddenly on everybody's lips: "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot.

It almost doesn't matter what else Luciano Pavarotti (pictured below) did in his 71 years because of that moment in July 1990, on the eve of the football World Cup final between Argentina and West Germany, when he stood next to Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras at Rome's ancient Caracalla Baths and fired the popular imagination.

I was nearing the end of my first gap year, newly liberated from school and rules. That summer, my friend Andy and I travelled through France and Italy en route for Greece. Then through Yugoslavia and on to newly liberated eastern Europe, still celebrating the fall of the wall.

Hungary, Czechoslovakia and East Germany--Pavarotti's "Nessun Dorma" provided an odd soundtrack as we travelled around. For a brief period during that trip I became captivated by football--I was "over the moon" when England, against all expectations, reached the semi-final, "gutted" by defeat to West Germany, and loud and loutish when Italy defeated England, placing them fourth.

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For that match we were on a ferry. It might have been the one from Brindisi to Patras. Throughout the trip we were obnoxious enough to cause concern to our fellow passengers, shutting up only when the match was lost. …

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