I had a dream from which I was rudely woken by the dog barking. Clyde has different barks for different threats. A marauding cat produces a breathless swallowed woof. An unknown human, particularly anywhere near the doors or in the garden, allows him an entirely more threatening tenor of which his humans take notice. Last night it was the former.
As I was jerked from sleep the flash of a dream came with me. I was in a dim music room leaning against a grand piano, notepad and pen in hand, watching in awe as Pavarotti played and sang. He glanced up and, as the last notes swayed in the air, he smiled. Ignoring the dog and the perceived violation of the his territory, I stumbled to my desk and, in the half light, wrote on a scrap of paper, ‘interviewing Pav – questions I wish I’d asked’.
I should probably now mention I never interviewed Luciano Pavarotti. Neither did he play the piano, although there is no doubting the greatness of his voice – he was not known as the ‘King of the High C’s’ for nothing. I have always admired him, and do have a number of his CDs – one of my favorites being his Neapolitan songs, of which O Sole Mio is one. Possibly not for the Maestro’s prowess but because I have an evocative memory of my son singing it in the shower whilst on a canal boat cruising across the Yorkshire Dales. The Italian might not have been perfect. Actually, it wasn’t even Italian but words made up to fit the tune and sung with great operatic verve by a six-year-old.
But back to Luciano and why I was dreaming about him. A final glass of rum before bed might have contributed to the vividness of the dream, even though it was monochromatic, down to the white handkerchief he used to mop his brow as he finished playing. As I sipped I had watched a 2013 performance of Nessun Dorma purported to be sung by Pavarotti’s granddaughter, Sislena Caparrosa, on a Spanish talent show. It was a breathtaking performance by a fifteen-year-old, but The Luciano Pavarotti Foundation assured snopes.com that she was no relation to the great man.
Be that as it may it provoked a question. Pavarotti was a man of large appetites – witness the bacchanalian feast celebrating his 70th birthday with scantily clad wenches in red costumes.
“Luciano,” because in my dream we seemed to be on familiar terms, “I ask this not from some voyeuristic desire to delve into your private life but from an earnest hope there is another Pavarotti voice for future generations to enjoy. DNA, as it were, passed to another generation, as your father’s voice was passed to you.” I pause here, gathering my courage. “So, Luciano, is it in the realms of possibility that you have a granddaughter, the byproduct of a union not documented in your biography?”
If he throws back his head and laughs, I’m okay. Then I’d ask him why he pissed off various opera houses by withdrawing from performances at the last moment enough times to earn another title, ‘The King of Cancellations’.
“I ask in relation to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, under the directorship of Ardis Krainik, severing their long relationship with you, banning you for life from performing there again. Why, Luciano, why? It would seem such a snub to your myriads of fans.”
And finally, because even I can sense I am beginning to teeter on the edge of his humour and patience, I ask my last question, “I know you told Jeremy Paxman in that 2005 interview for the BBC that you could read music despite allegations to the contrary, but why did you never learn to read orchestral scores? Was it arrogance?”
If the great man growls at the temerity of my question and throws the hanky at me, the interview is over and I will be tossed from the music room with no chance of ever having a private concert again.
I will pick up my notepad and pen, dropped in the roar of his rage, and stagger into the daylight, cursing the day I dreamt of Pavarotti and believed I had the gall to question him. To never have the opportunity to hear him play and sing solely for me. O Sole Mio, the sunshine will have dimmed a little.
My dream did though provoke an interesting take on future interviews – questions I wish I’d asked! My next will be with Jane Austen.
Addenda: Thanks to Chris Lusignan for sending me a link to Pavarotti’s true granddaughter – María Cristina Crucian. My first question is now declared null and void – DNA rules. This little girl has a remarkable voice, just like her grandpa!