I'm no great opera lover and would probably never go to see one - but I do like the occasion song. Pavarotti's rendition of Nessun Dorma still moves me so much and I know that song and his performance of it for the 1990 World Cup opened up Opera for millions of people.
Pavarotti was almost a larger than life character who seemed so genuinely happy to be performing with a wide variety of well known singers from U2's Bono to The Spice Girls, from Celine Dion to James Brown. He lived life to the full with the classic list of wine, women and song being his mantra.
He'll be missed, of course, but thankfully we have a treasure trove of his wonderful performances on cd and dvd to be enjoyed by everyone for decades to come.
And memories are what it's all about. Many a movie has ended with the phrase "he'll never really be gone as long as there are those of us who never forget him".
A tad sentimental and Hollywood maybe......but true all the same.
On the subject of Opera and memories, I do have an experience to share. Although I said that I'm not really into Opera as such, I have most of the albums of Andrea Bocelli as I find listening to his voice an almost religious experience and often it transports me to a better place.
No not like Virgin Rail. More like The Orient Express.
Anyway back to the memory.
I've been to Las Vegas about 4 times now and of course it was the first visit that holds most memories for me as it's quite a place after all. But it was an experience during my second visit that left me with a memory so vivid that it gives me goosebumps to this day. When I was first there, there was a casino called The Dunes just up The Strip from where I was staying, at The Sands. Between 1993 and 1994, the loss making Dunes was demolished and a stunning new resort casino rose in it's place. The Italian styled Bellagio opened in 1998 and as well as being a magnificent hotel, it is almost as famous for the fountain which stretches across an 8 acre lake between the building and The Strip.
To call it a fountain is like saying The Grand Canyon is a crack in the earth. It just doesn't do it justice. It has 1,200 nozzles which makes it possible to put on a display which is timed to music.
The jets can push the water up to a staggering height of 25o feet and when these displays are set to just the right music, it makes for an experience that lives long in the memory.
I was visiting the city for that second time soon after The Bellagio was built and I was in the company of someone special to me. We got to our hotel late in the evening and once we'd checked in and partially unpacked, I was eager to get out and see the sights. It was a typically hot and humid night in Vegas and after a while, we'd strolled along The Strip to the edge of The Bellagio and noticed the crowds gathering all around the lake. We joined them and waited.
On the hour, many of the 4,500 underwater fountain lights came on and the tension and excitement rose around the lake. The only light came from the hotel windows and from The Paris casino across the road. Suddenly the first notes of "Con te partirò" (Time To Say Goodbye) came from dozens of speakers set up around the viewing area and then the fountain display started. As the music and voice of Sarah Brightman swelled, so did the water display with the jets sweeping across the lake and back again and shooting up into the night sky to reflect the pitch and volume of the song. A couple of minutes in and the voice of Andrea Bocelli took over and my goosebumps had goosebumps.
The fountain display on it's own was stunning. The music on it's own was beautiful. The two combined - priceless.
There are several home movies of this on YouTube and I've looked at most of them to try and find the best for this blog. I've taken my own video on a couple of occasions and know how hard it is to capture the event without picking up the voices of those standing nearby and the traffic noises from The Strip. Some posters have just added the audio track afterwards which gives great quality but loses the vital sounds of the fountain.....the swoooooooosh as the jets of water sway from side to side, the rapid, almost machine gun like sounds they make when the jets streak across the lake and finally the explosive sound when they blast the water to it's full 250ft height at the climax of the music.
There is also the problem faced by the cameramen as they try and pan back and forth to track the action and the best videos are those which simply use a wide angle and stick with it. If you've never seen the fountain before, please do not follow this link first, but there is a video taken from above which shows the design of the fountain very well but loses out on 2 points. First there is no atmosphere as I said before and also it was taken during the day. The experience is so much better at night.
So this is for you, Luciano, and it's fitting that it should be sung partly by your good friend Andrea Bocelli. Most other tribute posts will include you singing Nessun Dorma but I just wanted to merge my memory with yours.
It's the best I can do.