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Tenor Pavarotti Dies at Age 71

World-renowned opera singer Luciano Pavarotti died in Italy at age 71 Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The NewsHour takes a look at the tenor's lifetime of work and talks with a music critic about his legacy.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And a few reflections on the life and music of Pavarotti now from Tim Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic for the Washington Post.

    Tim, we were both smiling as we were watching every time he opened his mouth there. He said, "God kissed my vocal chords." How do you explain what makes that voice so special?

  • TIM PAGE, Music Critic, Washington Post:

    It's marvelous voice. I mean, I don't think I ever heard such a beautiful sound come from a man's voice. People can argue who was the greatest tenor, who is the most musical, who is the most venturesome, but I think if you asked anybody or most people in the opera world who had the most sheerly beautiful voice, sun-splashed and resonant and just something very tender and very beautiful about it.

    I grew quite misty listening to those recordings, because, you know, I've been listening to this man for 30 years, and I'm in the lucky position of never having had to pay for it once.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Extra special.

  • TIM PAGE:

    And I will really miss hearing him.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    I saw several references to him today as the last of the — the last great voice of Italian opera, which suggests that this is part of a tradition. And he, of course, always cited the tradition with Caruso.

  • TIM PAGE:

    Yes, I would hesitate to go that far. I would say — and certainly Placido Domingo, even though he's not Italian, sings a lot of Italian opera and sings it magnificently.

    Every great artist is unique, and especially a singer. When a singer is out there, the singer is carrying around his or her instrument with himself. And so it's not as though you can get another instrument such as Pavarotti has. You can't go out and — if a cello goes bad or if a piano goes bad, you can go out and get a very good piano or cello. But if you carry it around with you, you can't find another.