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Interview With Luciano Pavarotti

Aired September 27, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Luciano Pavarotti. You know he can sing like nobody else. Now the maestro speaks about a legendary career, about health, tabloids talking his personal life. We're going to hit all the high notes with the one and only Pavarotti. He's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. What a great honor I have tonight. I have the pleasure of interviewing Luciano Pavarotti, icon of classical music, one of the most celebrated tenors who ever lived. His new CD is "Ti Adoro," released on September 23. "Ti Adoro" is Pavarotti's first solo album in more than 15 years and his first ever solo crossover album and his first time on this show. And we celebrate his 68th birthday next month, as well.

Luciano, thank you very much for being with us.

LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, TENOR: Thank you. Thank you to invite me. Is long time I am looking for.

KING: My honor, too. Why -- why did it take 15 years to do an album?

PAVAROTTI: Well, I never want before. I always say the crossover is not necessary. And then one day, my daughter come to me to New York with a record. And she says, Papa, you have to do this song. I tried the song. I liked the song, and I make -- the song is "Caruso." It's a secular (ph) song. So that is the beginning. But is even the reason why "Caruso" is in the album of today, even if it's an old song, but is testify I pass -- I made the jump with these songs and...

KING: What -- what makes it for you a crossover?

PAVAROTTI: What makes for me, what makes for the other?

KING: Yes.

PAVAROTTI: I don't know.

KING: Is it crossover because these are songs you don't normally sing?

PAVAROTTI: No, I don't -- nobody sing these song because they are written just for me.

KING: Oh, so it's brand new. And would you call...

PAVAROTTI: They are brand new.

PAVAROTTI: ... them in the pop vein?


KING: Do you enjoy that kind of singing?

PAVAROTTI: Immensely. Fantastic.

KING: Why?

PAVAROTTI: Because, like I say before, is new, is written for me, is music that I did not learn, and not even a suggestion (ph) from other tenors (ph) of the past, and what it is all my invention, my soul, my interpretation, without anybody doing anything before on these songs. And that is something very beautiful, you know? I'll put (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in a new opera, because if you write romantic song, you know, you are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) composer. Instead, in pop, yes, and I think choose very good songs. I think so.

KING: What does "Ti Adore" means?

PAVAROTTI: "Ti Adore" is I adore you. I adore you, which is dedicated to my daughter, who is now eight months old, and I really adore her. I lost my mind. Really.

KING: What is it like? Do you enjoy -- since you haven't recorded in a long time, do you prefer live audiences to a studio?

PAVAROTTI: No, it is completely different. In the studio, you have two or three tracks, and then when you put together, it is not good enough, you will go over it and you try to do better. At a performance, instead, you don't correct.

KING: The new CD is called "Ti Adore." All right. Is it true that you plan to retire in two years, on your 70th birthday? Is that true?

PAVAROTTI: Well, you are making me the question today, and today I say, yes, I will. If you make me next year, perhaps not.

KING: So as of today, you're thinking of retirement, but you're open to change your mind?

PAVAROTTI: Yes. I am open to everything.

KING: Don't you think, though, you would miss singing?

PAVAROTTI: I don't know. I have to reach the point, and then I like you know, I will sing in the shower. I've never done before.

KING: What about singing as you age? I've interviewed many singers over the years, Sinatra, who I know you knew very well, and Tony Bennett and others who said that sometimes you can sing better the older you get.

PAVAROTTI: Well, kind of, yes. Certain things are better, certain others you lose. It's different instrument. Of course, my father died last year, unfortunately, with a tenor voice, and he was singing beautifully until the last day of his life. And I hope to do the same. Very obviously, I will do in private if I don't sing publicly.

KING: Now, what has changed? What, are there things you can't do now that you used to be able to do?

PAVAROTTI: Well, there is old opera that I was (ph) at the beginning. For example, "Puritannes" (ph), "Favorita" (ph). All the -- the opera was extra tough, not just tough to do any day, but with a very extra tough, and that you do when you are crazy.

KING: Are there notes you can't reach now?

PAVAROTTI: Yes, of course.

KING: Can you fake it?

PAVAROTTI: No, I don't think so. No. Why? It is a very honest world (ph), our work. I think you cannot fake anything. The better you do live what is good for you, written for you. But there is many operas. I still do it. I am coming (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in March to do three performances of "Tosca." You know, "Tosca" was a little noise they made around when they canceled the performance, and now I'm coming to do three performances, so we'll be even.

KING: Let's go back. When did you know that you could sing?

PAVAROTTI: At the age of 4. I jump on the table. I make the lights (ph) turn, and I say, My father is a tenor. I am a little tenor. And I begin to sing, "La Donna e Mobile" -- (SINGS)

KING: When did you first sing professionally?

PAVAROTTI: Professionally, there is two way to think, with the piano and with the orchestra. With the piano, I -- at the age of 18, I was already singing for $1, $2 a performance. With the orchestra, the 29 of April, 1961, the day of my debut. That is very important date for me because at that time, elementary school teacher Pavarotti become a tenor.

KING: You were a teacher?

PAVAROTTI: Yes, I was an elementary school teacher.

KING: Where did you make the debut?

PAVAROTTI: Regiomilia (ph), close to my city, Modena.

KING: You were not a prodigy?

PAVAROTTI: I don't know. Don't exist, that word, in our profession. Absolutely.

KING: There are no great 14-year-old singers.

PAVAROTTI: Well, but generally, they don't maintain what they promise. I think in our profession, the voice is really around 18, 20, and it can improve even more. But there is no prodigy or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) prodigy, no. In fact, if you see all the great singer of the past, none of them are.

KING: What do you remember about that first night?

PAVAROTTI: Oh! The first night was -- I was so scared of the conductor, of the fact that I did not know if I were able to go with the orchestra, remind -- remember all the words, remember all the action. It was something completely new, you know, jumping like that, without any try before. Yes, we rehearse a month, and then was -- was very good because we were a great team.

KING: Was it a success?

PAVAROTTI: Very -- very good success, but in our profession, you know, when a tenor is decent, everybody knows in the world.

KING: What made you famous? Was there a performance, was there an appearance somewhere that -- where the world knew Pavarotti?

PAVAROTTI: Well, famous, I don't know if I am now, but I suspect yes. But when -- when the world know Pavarotti was when I substitute di Stefano at Covent Garden in London. The day after, it was big article, "di Stefano substitute," but they did not use my name. Di Stefano was the big news.

KING: Yes, that changed.

We'll be right back with Luciano Pavarotti, icon of music. His new CD is "Ti Adoro," and it's a crossover album, first one he's done in 15 years. Right back with the great Pavarotti right after this.


KING: The new CD is available everywhere, "It Adoro." Our guest is Luciano Pavarotti, one of the most celebrated and great singers who ever stepped before a microphone, and in many cases, without a microphone, of course, in the great opera houses of the world.

You mentioned that cancellation. When you have to cancel...

PAVAROTTI: You have to cancel when your voice is not -- sound right. I mean, when you have catarrh, when you have a flu, when the voice look like that, you know? Absolutely, you cannot sing when you are like that.

KING: Why did you have to write an open letter to your fans? Why was it so criticized when you canceled the "Tosca" performance?

PAVAROTTI: Well, I just say if they boo me because I did not sing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because if I sing bad, so they will do it. But if I don't sing, they give me too much importance, I think.

KING: Are there nights when you know -- are there -- do you ever have off nights? Are there nights where it doesn't go well for you ever?

PAVAROTTI: A couple, yes.

KING: And do you know it before the audience knows it?

PAVAROTTI: Of course. Of course. And you know, when I left the theater, some friend of mine says, Oh, it was not right to boo you. I say, Well, probably was not right, but I was not at my best. So I have to understand and being philosopher about that.

KING: Why do opera fans boo?

PAVAROTTI: Because they applaud a lot, and then the opposite is that.

KING: They expect a lot.



KING: All right, let's discuss a lot of things. How's your health? You had a hip replacement. You had knee surgery. How are you doing?

PAVAROTTI: Five years ago.

KING: Yes, but how are you?

PAVAROTTI: I'm very well. Very well. Very well.

KING: The weight problem -- have you always fluctuated?

PAVAROTTI: Well -- you are really to talk about this?

KING: No, I mean, do you always -- have you always gone up...


PAVAROTTI: I have lost twice 85 pounds. Can you imagine? Twice. Of course, I regain (UNINTELLIGIBLE) almost all.

KING: Do you sing better when you weigh more?

PAVAROTTI: No. No, no, no. This is something that people says because they don't want to lose weight. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is not too big.

KING: Why do you think you've always been -- beyond opera, you're famous the world over. You're the subject of tabloids. People get very interested in your personal life. You ever wonder about that? PAVAROTTI: I don't -- yes. Everything...

KING: I mean, why you?

PAVAROTTI: Maybe I make (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for you. Why me? Well, let's say if you see me once, you cannot confuse me with another.

KING: Correct.

PAVAROTTI: And you begin to have the figure. And the voice is even very particular voice that you don't confuse with another. And that -- that two thing together, I think they are called personality. Which one is the personality? I don't know. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you have to tell me.

KING: Are you happy now?

PAVAROTTI: Very. Very happy.

KING: What has Nicoletta (ph) meant to your life?

PAVAROTTI: Fantastic new thing. And she give me a baby, and so today, I am (UNINTELLIGIBLE) father.

KING: How did you...


KING: How did you meet her? How did that come about?

PAVAROTTI: She came to work for me once in Pavarotti and Friends. She was a host. I met her, and I say, OK, do this, do that, do that. But in the meantime, I saw her so gentle, so efficient, so nice, so tender, so sweet. And then you understand then I fall in love, obviously.

KING: Yes.

PAVAROTTI: If I say these words.

KING: And then you had to go through a long divorce...


KING: ... while being in...


KING: How tough was that on you? And how -- did it affect your singing?

PAVAROTTI: For a moment, bad. It was bad because I was suffering myself. Probably my wife suffer more, but I don't think so. I suffer a lot.

KING: Are you officially married now?

PAVAROTTI: No. With Nicoletta?

KING: Yes.

PAVAROTTI: I think we just decide today, and I don't tell you when because we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) be four people, very sacred. We just baptized my daughter now, and we have 300 people in the church. This time, when we are going to be married, we will be alone.

KING: Can we -- can we say if it's going to be this year?


KING: It will be this year.

PAVAROTTI: Very probably.

KING: What is your daughter's name?

PAVAROTTI: Alice. Is what you say "Alice," but Alice.

KING: I have two young boys. They're 4 and 3. I don't like to get personal...

PAVAROTTI: Phenomenal!

KING: ... but I'm going to be 70 in November. I know what it's like for me. What is it like for you, at your age, to have a baby?

PAVAROTTI: Well, to have a baby is exactly like it is for you. I am father, and I am grandfather. So there is two love, and together (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because I'm really very (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: And like you, granddaughters older than your daughter, right?

PAVAROTTI: Yes. I have a granddaughter that is older than my daughter.

KING: How do your children, your older children, take to the baby?

PAVAROTTI: I do not know. I hope well, but I never ask. They are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and they think so. But if they -- if they feel differently, they will not tell me.

KING: You lost a baby once, right?

PAVAROTTI: Yes. Exactly when Alice was born. They were twins.

KING: Oh. He was a boy, right?

PAVAROTTI: Yes, was a boy. Very bad memories that day, but said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because yes, we lost one boy, but we have one girl, so... KING: Yes. Still a blessing.

PAVAROTTI: It can be worse. Yes, still a blessing. Yes.

KING: Our guest is the great Luciano Pavarotti. Lots more to go. The new CD is "It Adoro." You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


KING: The incredibly talented Luciano Pavarotti, who has cut his own swathe in the history of worldwide music. I remember Sinatra sitting here, saying he was having difficulty one time hitting something, in a note in a particular song, so he did, like many singers would do, he called Pavarotti. What else would you do with a problem?

You lost both of your parents last year, right?

PAVAROTTI: Last year, yes.

KING: I imagine if you're going to be 68, they lived to a ripe old age.

PAVAROTTI: My father was almost 90, and my mother was 87. They (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a beautiful, fantastic life. I was a very good son. During the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and when I really become father of these two -- two parents, I was -- I was the father -- I treat them -- you know, my father took the drive license at the age of 60. I force him, I dress him, I go inside the little machine, take a picture, go to the mayor, say -- and I force him to take the drive license. Like a father, but...

KING: Were they very supportive of you? Your father was a singer.

PAVAROTTI: Absolutely. From the beginning. Absolutely. My father is a tenor, and my mother is a very -- she was very, very sensitive lady, very sensible, and really -- I think they gave me both their quality, beside. They did not (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: Did your father accept the fact that his son was a better singer than him?


* PAVAROTTI: ... and beside, they did not have any defect.

KING: Did your father accept the fact that his son was a better singer than him?

PAVAROTTI: Ah, he was a little jealous of that. Because he has a better voice, you know.

KING: He had a better voice than you?


KING: Well, then, explain. What did you do ...

PAVAROTTI: Well, I think the better voice doesn't mean being a better singer.

KING: Explain.

PAVAROTTI: Oh. The sound of the voice, and then how you use the voice, how you use the phrasing. The intonation, the musicality. That is different.

And that is the reason why I did have success and he didn't. Because probably, the voice was the only quality that envy that. But they didn't me.

I was much better than my ...

KING: So, say there, it's not just the instrument, ...


KING: ... but what you do with ...


KING: ... the instrument.

PAVAROTTI: Absolutely. But if you are gifted, really if from God, they give you -- he give you the gift of the voice, and even the intelligence to drive it.

KING: When you are singing, do you -- I don't know how to ask -- do you hear yourself -- in other words, do you -- does it -- is it in your -- can you feel it in your head?

PAVAROTTI: If I do what?

KING: When you are singing, ...


KING: ... do you hear it coming out? In other words, do you hear ...

PAVAROTTI: Oh, yes ...

KING: ... it as I hear it?

PAVAROTTI: ... I know -- I know one second before if is not going well. Absolutely. I feel it. I feel it.

KING: And those moments when it's not going well, can you make changes? PAVAROTTI: Aah! It's too late.


KING: One second isn't enough.

How you -- is the tax problems all done now? Have you settled with the government?

PAVAROTTI: Oh, yes, yes.

KING: Did they give you a rough time?

PAVAROTTI: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. It was a mistake, because they give me money back, I think.

KING: Really.

PAVAROTTI: It was, you know, sometime to be called Pavarotti is not always an advantage.

KING: Do you like listening to yourself?

PAVAROTTI: No. If you want to do something really bad to me, you invite at home, your home, with beautiful food. And all of a sudden they put one record of mine. And my digestion will be finished before begin.

KING: Why?

PAVAROTTI: Because I'm a perfectionist, and I always think that I can do better what I have done, even if it's good.

KING: So even -- so you hear a perfectly done record, you'll say, I could have done better than that.

PAVAROTTI: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. But this one is the most -- the closest to being not perfect, but very good.

KING: Because you love it so much and because of your daughter.

PAVAROTTI: I love it and I did it at the time, you know, at the best time, because there is two episodes in this record. And two -- one and I have fear to arrive to me.

So, in one and I fear I made the other record beautifully, relaxing. And I did all the correction eventually that I did want.

KING: This is your best work -- in some time.

PAVAROTTI: I think you should judge.

KING: I'm looking forward to listening. Is there a big divide to you in music -- classical, pop, rock? I mean, what do you like listening to? PAVAROTTI: I like to listen good music. And I think there is not such a big fuss between pop music, jazz music, classic music, symphonic music. The music is good for me when it's good. I don't -- I don't have this kind of monkey (ph) on my shoulders. No, I don't.

KING: So you can like a rock piece. You can like jazz.


KING: You like ...

PAVAROTTI: I sung rap.

KING: You sang rap?

PAVAROTTI: Yes. With a -- in the duet of Pavarotti and Friends.

KING: Ha. Do you ...

PAVAROTTI: It was the singers singing rap, and at the top I was singing da-dee-da-da, dee-da-da da-dah -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It was good. It was very good.

KING: Do you like -- did you like the Beatles?

PAVAROTTI: Yes, of course. Of course. Of course.

KING: Because they did things musically that were beautiful, like ...

PAVAROTTI: Oh, phenomenon, phenomena. I think we grew together more or less. They were in Abbey Road when I was recording myself there.

KING: Oh, you recorded there, too?

PAVAROTTI: Yes. L'amico Fritz with Freni. It was very good.

KING: Just saw Paul McCartney yesterday. He's singing as good as ever.

PAVAROTTI: Yeah. I think ...

KING: Will ...

PAVAROTTI: ... I think he should come to my -- to my Pavarotti and Friends. He promised me to do it. Then, for some reason, he never maintained.

KING: Well, I'll see that he keeps his promise.


KING: We'll be right back with Luciano Pavarotti. The new CD is "Ti Adoro." We'll be right back after these words. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with the great Luciano Pavarotti. His new CD is "Ti Adoro," just released. It's his first solo studio album in more than 15 years, and it's always great to hear him in any venue.

Why do you think so many Americans have a tough time with opera?

PAVAROTTI: In which term?

KING: Hard to understand.

PAVAROTTI: Are you talking about the singer? Or are you talking about the audience?

KING: The audience. Why do we -- generally, ...

PAVAROTTI: You know that ...

KING: ... a lot of people say the opera ...

PAVAROTTI: ... well, ...

KING: ... is, well, I don't understand it.

PAVAROTTI: You don't under -- they don't understand, because it is written or in Italian or in French or in Deutsche. These are the languages that are used.

And so there is this kind of not understanding. But now every -- many theaters put the translation, simultaneous translation. And you know, and they understand everything.

KING: Is it growing in popularity?

PAVAROTTI: Of course. Listen, when I begin, 1961, they told me run, because in four year opera is disappear. I think they were not good guesser.

KING: Do you have a favorite opera house?

PAVAROTTI: If I have to say at the end of my profession, yes. And is the Met of New York, because I make so many things there.

But then there is Milano opera house. There is Vienna, Paris -- many, many opera houses around the world. I was very lucky.

KING: How about Australia?

PAVAROTTI: Even Australia I was, with a tour with Joan Sutherland. It was very good -- great experience.

KING: The key is the acoustics, right?

PAVAROTTI: Yes (ph).

KING: Are there some houses -- does a -- if the house is not acoustically correct, does that affect a singer?

PAVAROTTI: I think so, because you are beginning to push. And probably, you know, like a frog. Then you explode sooner or later. It's better to have a good acoustic, so you use all the color of your voice.

KING: How do you react when critics say you popularize it too much? You know, by singing for the masses, you're taking opera away from the elite.

PAVAROTTI: No, why should be elite, music? Excuse me. Music must be for everybody. This distinction was made from somebody else, not from me.

KING: How do you decide what song is right for you?


KING: How do you decide? In other words, what's your -- you listen to a piece of music. How do you know it's right for you?

PAVAROTTI: Well, I see in which aria of the pentagram is written. And then, generally, I guess it. And I try immediately. I don't wait much.

And if is an old piece, I go to hear a tenor, then were there before me, and immediately understand if I can do.

KING: Do you ever get tired of singing something you've sang a thousand times?

PAVAROTTI: No, because everything is new. Every night is new. Our profession is very exciting for that reason.

KING: How do you keep your voice in shape?

PAVAROTTI: Try to rest. And vocalize, study.

KING: Sing every day?

PAVAROTTI: Oh, every day, yes.

KING: Do you smoke cigars?

PAVAROTTI: How do you know that? I smoke cigar in the summer time. Probably in three months, 10 cigar.

KING: Because it can't be good for the voice.

PAVAROTTI: Ah, 10 cigars in three months cannot be better -- cannot be worse (ph).

KING: Tell me how the Three Tenors came about -- Carreras, Domingo and Pavarotti. How did that come together?

PAVAROTTI: They come together in 1990, when it was the world championship in Rome of soccer, and when Carreras come back from a very, severe sickness. So, I didn't ever want before make the Three Tenors, because I say there is no need to use (ph) better. We are two different -- three different person.

But that moment, at that precise moment -- to celebrate Carreras -- yes, we did. And we were together, and we enjoyed the first time. And the second time was four years after in Los Angeles.

KING: I remember that.

PAVAROTTI: And we enjoy even more. And at that night, we decide then we can make a tour together. And we did, and we have touched almost all the world.

KING: Was it fun for you?

PAVAROTTI: Excuse me?

KING: Was it fun? Did you enjoy it?

PAVAROTTI: Oh, fun. Yes.

KING: Did you not hear me?

PAVAROTTI: No, I did not.

KING: It was fun.

PAVAROTTI: It was very fun. You know, I am a tenor buff.


PAVAROTTI: So I go there. I hear myself. I hear them. At the very end they pay me not bad, ...


PAVAROTTI: ... so what is better than that?

KING: Do you get the best -- you get three instead of one.


KING: But isn't there a rivalry among tenors?

PAVAROTTI: Not really, no. The rivalry is with ourself. For example, I try to be better than is possible. But I fight against myself, not against the other.

There is too much respect of the three of us. I am sorry, because people will drive (ph) really to see us fight. But we cannot. We respect too much each other.

KING: How good are they?

PAVAROTTI: Fantastic. KING: Both of them.

PAVAROTTI: Both of them.

KING: And when you sing -- was there a lot of rehearsal, by the way?

PAVAROTTI: Three or four days before. And if the concert is new, even more.

KING: Our guest is the great Luciano Pavarotti, the icon of classical music. The new album is "Ti Adoro." What an incredible man. Back after this.


KING: We're back with Luciano Pavarotti. There's a big discussion going on now about downloading, where people can literally rob your album by bringing it down off the Internet, getting it for free. How do you feel about that?

PAVAROTTI: It should not be like that. I think we are working seriously. The record company is investing money. And I think it should be remunerated.

KING: Do you think -- what makes your sound different? What do you do that others don't do?

PAVAROTTI: But if I don't know, you know. The sound is forming here. So I must have throat (ph) differently made than the other. The technique more or less is the same for the people they sing well.

KING: Is there any famous opera you won't sing? Any part that many tenors sing that you don't like?

PAVAROTTI: Not really. I've done everything, beginning from "Favorita," "Sonnambula" -- the early song until "Othello" lately. So is -- now I cover the entire aria.

KING: Now, tell me how Pavarotti and Friends got started.

PAVAROTTI: Pavarotti and Friends got started because I am a -- I am proud to be a messenger of peace for the United Nations. And at that time, precisely, I decide then I would like to raise money for the kids, one that from the world.

And to do that, I realize then the only way, it was to call pop singer. Because if you call pop singer, you can sell the ticket, you can have television, you can sell the record. And we did.

The first one was Bono coming. And then after that, many, many, many other.

KING: Yeah.

PAVAROTTI: And they all enjoy, and I never stop to thank them for that. They make lots of money for these kids. They receive the entire amount of money then we gave, because they receive directly. And that is a big, big thing that I am doing.

KING: Do you sing ...

PAVAROTTI: For me. I mean, for me, yes. For myself.

KING: Do you sing with the performers, too?

PAVAROTTI: In which -- of course. Is they all ...

KING: You sing together.

PAVAROTTI: Oh, yes. The idea is, and they come to make a song. And they duet with me. So there are 12 -- I made 12 duets. Is in every night.

KING: You've sung with -- let's see -- James Brown, Bono, Mariah Carey, Eric Clapton, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Elton John, Tom Jones, Ricky Martin, Liza Minnelli, the Spice Girls, Sting, Stevie Wonder.

Is that -- was that a kick for you to do that?

PAVAROTTI: Yes. Yes, and it was such a pleasure to know these people from the inside, not just from the cover of an album. I mean, you -- the men and the girl, the person. It was very pleasant, absolutely.

KING: What was it like to sing for royalty? You sung for Charles and Diana, did you not?

PAVAROTTI: Yes. I sung for them during a concert for the tree at Hyde Park of London. It was a very good experience, because it was raining and still everybody sit there to listen the concert. And that was incredible, absolutely.

And Lady Di, she was completely wet, because they close even their umbrella because they don't want disturb the other behind. It was a great -- a great, great, great memory for me.

KING: You like singing in the rain?

PAVAROTTI: Ah, very good. Gene Kelly.

KING: Well, ...

PAVAROTTI: Gene Kelly like to sing in the rain.

KING: Where were you on 9/11?

PAVAROTTI: I was exactly at home in Casero (ph). And I was preparing myself with the lawyer for not important business. And all suddenly a friend of mine -- the guy was making these records with me -- he come and he arrive and he says, come to see the television. Unbelievable.

And here we are. And we go to the television. I begin to cry and I have a cramp in my stomach because it was terrible, absolutely.

KING: Did you visit New York after that?

PAVAROTTI: Of course. Of course, of course. It's not the same, but it will be one day I hope.

KING: Did you go down to ground zero?

PAVAROTTI: No. I was refuse to do that.

KING: You didn't want to go.

PAVAROTTI: I don't want to go.

KING: What was the Kennedy Center honors like?

PAVAROTTI: For an Italian, being honored for -- in America, like one of the most important person, was a big privilege. The people that they are with me on that, was -- they were great.

The surprise person who come out for me was Kofi Annan. I cannot ask more than that, really. It was a night that I will never forget.

KING: That's right. There are not many non-Americans honored with Kennedy Center honors.


KING: You could name them on one hand maybe.

PAVAROTTI: Yes, probably.

KING: So, with all your career and all the lavish things that happen to you, do you still get a kick out of singing in an -- singing for an audience? Is that still a high for you? Or is it just another day?

PAVAROTTI: No, it's not another day. Is -- well, let's say, is another day of art. My heart is going on and the applause are telling me that I did well. And so, I have a kick, like you say.

KING: Don't you think, though, if you do retire, you would miss applause.

PAVAROTTI: I have no doubt that I will, yes.

KING: I mean, that's the need of a performer.

PAVAROTTI: Yeah, well I put -- I will put on a video where they applaud me and ...


KING: Our guest is Luciano Pavarotti. We'll be back with our remaining moments. One of the most celebrated tenors who ever lived. The new CD is "Ti Adoro." This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with the incredible Pavarotti. In fact, you don't have to say the last name. All you've got to say is Luciano.

You ever do Vegas?

PAVAROTTI: Yes, many times.

KING: Do you have a favorite aria? An aria that, if you had to sing one aria, it would be the aria you would sing.

PAVAROTTI: No, I can tell you who the -- which aria the audience like. And the aria is "Nessun Dorma" from "Turandot," where the last four (ph), they say I will win, I will win. And probably vincero, vincero. And probably is the desire for everybody to win. And that is what they like.

KING: Do you have a favorite composer?

PAVAROTTI: I have three favorite composers. One is symphonic, and he is Beethoven. One is operatic. That is Verdi. And one is the most genius of them, because he was -- he did write before them. And it's Mozart. That's are my choice.

KING: Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi.


KING: Not a bad group.


KING: That would have been a good act to see.

Tell me what happened? Did Liza Minnelli, when she was going to work with you, did she hurt herself or something?

PAVAROTTI: Yes. She fall ...

KING: What happened?

PAVAROTTI: I don't know. She fall. I did not -- I don't know, because I really was very, very busy to realize (ph) the entire -- the entire concert.

And she fell down. She did have a beautiful recovery in the city. And she appeared on television anyhow. So, it was from her very courageous to do, and I thank her for that.

KING: Luciano, where do you live?

PAVAROTTI: I'm living in Modena, who is my city where I was born. And ...

KING: Where is that in Italy in relation ...

PAVAROTTI: Modena, in relationship to Florence, Milan, is in the middle.

KING: And do you spend a lot of time -- do you travel a lot?

PAVAROTTI: I travel a lot, of course. And I did even more before.

KING: Spend a lot of time in New York?

PAVAROTTI: In New York. A lot of time in the hotel, a lot of time on the plane.

KING: Yes. Has the baby affected the way you travel? Do you take the baby with you?

PAVAROTTI: She just arrived in the first -- she make her debut two days ago. She's a little annoyed about that. She cry at three o'clock in the night. And so, we are going to try to adjust her.

KING: Does she have a good voice when she cries?

PAVAROTTI: Oh, my God. It is a strong voice. Eeper (ph) top. She's a scream with the throat open, really. Unbelievable.

KING: Would you like her to be a singer?

PAVAROTTI: If she is very good, yes. And more than everything, if she likes. Because what can I desire for her more than what she likes.

KING: She's got a tough name to live up to, though.

PAVAROTTI: Yes. But today, you know, Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas. If you are good, it's very good.

KING: You know, you've got a point.

What are your -- what are your hobbies? What do you like to do when you're not performing?

PAVAROTTI: I am a fanatic of soccer. I have my team who is Juventus of Turin. And I am watching on television all day the game. I read the book thriller. And ...

KING: You like thrillers.

PAVAROTTI: Yes, but not much. I play tennis in doubles. I was -- I was, I say, because I stopped last year -- I was very good at the net, a little tough.

KING: I'll bet. Why -- what is it about -- by the way, the soccer team you root for, are they very good? PAVAROTTI: Oh, they are. They won the championship.

KING: Why do you like that sport so much? Because the Americans, you know, we have the football.

PAVAROTTI: Well, America ...

KING: It's hard to get ...

PAVAROTTI: ... Americans love the sport that they play when they are a kid.

KING: Yes, when they play it, they love it.

PAVAROTTI: Yes, of course. But every Italian play football -- every. The first gift that they give to you when you are three is a ball -- a rubber ball that generally you break in one day.

But -- and then you grow up with all the friends. Now we have four (ph) friends and they are traveling with me sometimes. We were playing when we were 11 on the same team. And we are still friends.

KING: That's the best kind to have ...


KING: When -- a couple of other things. When will you sing again?

PAVAROTTI: I'm singing again this weekend at -- wait a second.

KING: We're hearing police sirens. Something's -- they're chasing you down, Luciano.

PAVAROTTI: No, no, no, no, no. Let's say -- OK. OK. I'm singing in Columbus. I'm singing in London. And I'm coming back singing in United States, in Mexico.

KING: I thank you very much for ...

PAVAROTTI: And then -- and then ...

KING: ... a wonderful hour.

PAVAROTTI: Thank you, ...

KING: It was great having you with us.

PAVAROTTI: Thank you, thank you.

KING: Can I hear a little bit of that great voice?

PAVAROTTI: It was a great, great pleasure.

KING: My pleasure.

PAVAROTTI: You are really something. You are the master.

KING: Oh. So, sing something to the master.

PAVAROTTI: Ah, please ...

KING: Give me just a little. Give me a little.

PAVAROTTI: ... please, please. A la, la, la.

KING: Thank you, Luciano.

PAVAROTTI: Thank you very much.

KING: Luciano Pavarotti. The new CD is "Ti Adoro." I'll be back in a minute to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE with Luciano Pavarotti. Tomorrow night, we'll repeat our interview with Carol Burnett. You stay tuned for the best news there is. The news that's the most trusted name in news, CNN. Good night.



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