Popular Songs Sung by Luciano Pavarotti

World famous operatic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007).

Luciano Pavarotti was a fantastic singer with a prolific performance history, and was, perhaps, the first opera star to use the power of the media to his advantage; almost his entire career is recorded on tape and/or video, many of which are easily obtainable, thankfully.  Did you know that Pavarotti's 1990 album The Essential Pavarotti became the first classical album to take the number one spot on the UK Pop Charts?  It remained there for five consecutive weeks.  Here are five more Pavarotti albums you should consider adding to your classical music collection.

Luciano's Most Beloved Songs

Luciano Pavarotti was born in 1935, and began his professional music career in 1961 when he made his first operatic debut as Rodolfo in Puccini's La bohème in the Reggio nell'Emilia Theater in Northern Italy.  By the time of his death in 2007, the unforgettable tenor became synonymous with leading tenor roles in Puccini's Turandot, Verdi's Aida, Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci, Verdi's La Traviata, Puccini's Tosca, and more.

As you've probably guessed, throughout his entire career Pavarotti has had many spectacular performances singing the tenor roles of the operas I mentioned above.  Here are a handful of arias from those operas and other popular songs: 

  • "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot
    Learn the lyrics to Nessun Dorma
    Pavarotti actually sang this aria more than he actually performed the role of Calaf in Puccini's opera, thanks to FIFA choosing his 1972 recording of the aria as their theme song in 1990.  Millions of people heard and watched Pavarotti sing "Nessun Dorma" and instantly fell in love with the aria and him.
  • "O Sole Mio"
    With music by Eduardo Di Capua (and Emanuele Alfredo Mazzucchi) and lyrics by Giovanni Capurro, "O Sole Mio" was actually a stand-alone song written for an annual songwriting contest for the Festival of Piedigrotta in 1898.  Over 80 years later, Luciano Pavarotti won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance for his recording of the song.
  • "Che Gelida Manina" from Puccini's La Boheme
    Learn the lyrics to Che Gelida Manina
    Before Pavarotti became a household name, a 1972 recorded performance of La Boheme starring Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni (conducted by Herbert von Karajan) became a highly respected and praised rendition of the opera.
  • "La Donna e Mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto
    Learn the lyrics to La Donna e Mobile
    This aria is one of those songs that easily stick to your mind; its melody is easy to sing and practically unforgettable. With a voice like that, it's no surprise that Pavarotti's performances of it are highly preferred.
  • "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert
    Learn the lyrics to Ave Maria
    Schubert's "Ave Maria" was composed within a set of seven songs in 1825, based on Walter Scott's poem, The Lady of the Lake.  After its premiere, it became of Schubert's most well-known pieces of classical music, so it should be no surprise to you that Pavarotti chose to include it in his own repertoire.​
  • "Una furtiva lagrima" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore
    Learn the lyrics to "Una furtiva lagrima"
    At the time of its composition in 1832, Donizetti's opera,L'elisir d'amore (The Elixer of Love), became one of the most performed operas in Italy.  Since then, according to Operabase, an organization that monitors and keeps track of operatic performances around the world, Donizetti's opera was the 13th most performed opera in the world between 2008 and 2013.  When Pavarotti became an international superstar, this aria became one of his most popular.
  • "Funiculì, Funiculà"
    Here is another famous song written for the Festival of Piedigrotta in 1880.  The music by Luigi Denza set to lyrics by Peppino Turco, was composed to commemorate the opening of the first funicular (railway cable car) on Mount Vesuvius.  The song's score was published by Casa Ricordi and sold over 1 million copies within its first year.