You’ve probably heard the news that opera legend Luciano Pavarotti died Thursday morning at home in Italy. I thought I would share the U2 DIARY entries that mention Pavarotti; together, they paint a picture of the friendship U2, and particularly Bono, developed with the star tenor.
September 12, 1995
Bono and Edge are joined by Brian Eno and opera singer Luciano Pavarotti at the latter’s “Pavarotti and Friends” concert in Modena, Italy, to perform the new song “Miss Sarajevo,” featuring vocals by Pavarotti. U2 later performs a version of “One” complete with classical orchestra. The concert is an annual event hosted by Pavarotti and is a benefit to raise money for the children of Bosnia.
Miss Sarajevo is also the title of a documentary directed by Bill Carter, who had appeared via satellite from Sarajevo during U2’s Zooropa tour concerts in 1993. The 31-minute film is produced by Ned O’Hanlon and Bono, and is partially financed by U2. When the program airs on TV, it begins with an introduction by actor Liam Neeson provides and introduction, and closes with U2’s video for the song “Miss Sarajevo.”
December 21, 1997
Bono appears with Luciano Pavarotti at the opening of a cultural center in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
April 8, 2003
The U.N. confirms that Bono and Luciano Pavarotti will perform together at the Italian tenor’s annual charity concert near his hometown of Modena, Italy. This year’s concert, to be held May 27th, is slated to benefit Iraq war refugees. Bono and Pavarotti sang together in 1995 to aid children in Bosnia.
May 25, 2003
Bono arrives in Italy in advance of a performance with Luciano Pavarotti in Modena. Today, they rehearse “One” with a full orchestra, and then practice a new version of Schubert’s “Ave Maria.”
They do a news conference after rehearsal, and then Bono and others have dinner at a restaurant that Pavarotti owns in the country. There, Bono joins the house band to sing a bit of “Unchain My Heart.”
May 27, 2003
Bono makes a solo appearance at the Pavarotti and Friends concert in Modena, Italy. His performance includes “One” with an orchestra backing, and a duet with Pavarotti on “Ave Maria.” Bono has written new lyrics for the song that reflect the ongoing situation in the Middle East:
Where is the justice in this world?
The wicked make so much noise, mother
The righteous stay oddly still
With no wisdom, all of the riches in the world leave us poor tonight
And strength is not without humility
It’s weakness, an untreatable disease
And war is always the choice
Of the chosen who will not have to fight
The concert raises an estimated £1 million pounds for Iraqi war refugees. It’s Bono’s second performance at Pavarotti’s concert — he performed with Edge and Brian Eno during the 1995 concert.
December 13, 2003
Bono and Edge, with their wives Ali and Morleigh, respectively, are on hand for the wedding of Luciano Pavarotti to Nicoletta Mantovani in Modena, Italy. Initial reports suggest that Bono sung for the couple during the reception, and London’s Evening Standard eventually reports that Bono sang “All I Want Is You”, changing the lyrics to the more topical “When the pasta has run dry/And the wine no longer gets you high/All I want is you.”
July 16, 2005
On the third of three nights in Amsterdam, U2 surprise the 50,000 on hand by performing “Miss Sarajevo” for the first time since 1997. Bono sings the operatic verses that were handled in the studio by Luciano Pavarotti.
August 21, 2006
A day after visiting Sarajevo, Bono visits Luciano Pavarotti — who sang with U2 on the song “Miss Sarajevo” — at the tenor’s home in Italy. Pavarotti is recovering from surgery for pancreas cancer in July.