Pavarotti: Ron Howard profiles Opera legend

A still of Nicoletta Mantovani and Luciano Pavarotti. Credit: MARKA/Alamy Stock Photo

Ron Howard’s newest documentary, Pavarotti, goes back into the past to celebrate the life of The People’s Tenor himself, Luciano Pavarotti.

It’s very well possible that the singer might be the only person to give opera a form of entertainment value.  I’ll be the first to admit that opera isn’t my cup of tea but there’s entertainment to be had here.  A bulk of the video comes by way of home video.  It just so happens that someone was filming the legendary singer for all these years.  Most of this particular footage had never been seen before.  As such, the film starts out during a trip to Brazil in 1995.  This is when Pavarotti is on a mission to perform at the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil.  It became a goal for the legend because Caruso once sang there.

This film is not completely an all-archival film.  Such a film would simply not work.  Not for the Maestro as people refer to him.  No, we have the in-person interviews with friends and family.  Some of these–yes–do come by way of archival interviews.

Pavarotti’s booming tenor voice also plays quite well in Dolby Atmos theaters.  This particular voice became a gift for the man from Modena, Italy.  He would sing together with his father in the choir before later hitting it big as an opera singer.  As we see in the film, he uses his voice for the betterment of others.  This will include charity concerts that take place later in life.

One of the fascinating things to learn about celebrities is the impact on their families.  The film happens to make this somewhat of a focus–at least in the final half.  Later on during his life, Pavarotti would meet a younger woman, Nicoletta Mantovani.  There would be photos published in magazines and these would have a devastating effect on his family.  The two would go onto marry and have a daughter, Alice.  We especially see this during the sit-down interviews with surviving family members.  It surely could not be easy for them to open up in this nature.

To the filmmaking team’s credit, the film is divided into three separate acts.  Honestly, this structure works for the film and particularly well, I must say.  Meanwhile, the film keeps going back to Nessun Dorma from Turandot as a refrain.  It’s one of the opera songs that was able to cross-over successfully and become a hit.

Pavarotti doesn’t only work as a biographical documentary but also an introduction to the world of opera.

DIRECTOR: Ron Howard
FEATURING:  Luciano Pavarotti

CBS Films opens Pavarotti in theaters on June 7, 2019. Fathom Events will host screenings nationwide on June 4, 2019. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.