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Pavarotti to retire from stage in 2005


NEW YORK (CNN) -- After more than four decades gracing concert stages around the world, famed Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti told CNN Tuesday night he plans to retire on his 70th birthday in 2005.

Pavarotti made the announcement in an interview on CNN's "Connie Chung Tonight." He joked that after October 2005, "I never sing even in the bathroom, not even when I'm taking a shower."

Pavarotti's performing future has been the subject of speculation in recent years. While other tenors have retired in their 50s, he has not even broached the subject of leaving the opera stage.

On May 11, he was scheduled to sing at the Metropolitan Opera's season finale in New York, in what was rumored to be his last appearance at the Met.

When Pavarotti was a no show, the audience -- some of whom had paid $1,800 a ticket -- erupted in a chorus of boos.

Pavarotti told CNN he did not show up because he was ill with laryngitis and could not talk.

"It's stupid, absolutely stupid, to make such a big fuss," he said.

Pavarotti also said he plans this year to marry Nicoletta Mantovani, 32, his companion of six years, and the couple is thinking about having children -- "one or two or 10."

"I proposed to her several years ago. She says yes. And she ... still say yes," he said. "I think she's a masochist."

Pavarotti's 34-year marriage to his wife, Adua, collapsed after photos surfaced of him and Mantovani. He has three daughters from that marriage, all of whom are older than his fiancee.

Since January, Pavarotti has lost both his mother and father.

"These two beautiful people together -- they stayed 74 years together," he said. "It is such a beautiful memory. It is not sad. You see me sad inside -- it's a big loss -- but every time I'm thinking about them ... I don't cry. I smile."

Pavarotti said recent hip and knee surgery have not slowed him down. But he acknowledged that his legendary girth is an issue and he is dieting -- in moderation.

"So I am not starving. I am dieting, yes," he said.

Born in Modena, Italy, on October 12, 1935, Pavarotti made his opera debut in 1961 in Italy.

He gained international prominence in 1963 when he stepped in to perform in a production of "La Boheme" in London when the scheduled tenor fell ill. He drew rave reviews and earned his first recording contract.

He made his U.S. debut in Miami in 1965 and first performed at the Met in 1968. Pavarotti achieved stardom in the United States in 1972 during a production of La Fille du Regiment at the Met, when he hit nine high Cs during an aria.

Pavarotti now plans his workload carefully, scheduling about 40 performances a year that earn him a reported $35 million.

According to his longtime record company, Decca, Pavarotti is the most popular artist in the history of the classical recording industry.




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