NIAF News Releases



Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 6, 2007) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) mourns the passing of legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who died today at the age of 71 of pancreatic cancer.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of one of the world’s most highly acclaimed tenors, Luciano Pavarotti,” says Foundation Chairman Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli. “NIAF has lost a valuable friend and the world has lost one of its most beautiful voices.”

Over the years, NIAF has endowed a musical scholarship in the opera star’s name, helping Italian-American students pursue careers in music and voice. In 2004, Pavarotti received the Foundation’s highest honor, induction into the NIAF Hall of Fame in Music during the Foundation’s 29th Anniversary Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. At the gala, Pavarotti brought the event’s more than 3,000 guests to their feet when he received his award. At the end of the evening, singer Faith Hill presented Pavarotti with a cake to celebrate his birthday, which was that week.

One of the world’s most beloved tenors, Pavarotti has been a household name for more than 40 years and has won five Grammy Awards. Born in Modena, Italy, on October 12, 1935, he made his operatic debut in 1961 in “La Boheme.” But it was his February 1972 performance in a production of “La Fille du Regiment” at New York’s Metropolitan Opera that thrust Pavarotti into the international spotlight.

In 1990, he performed in concert with fellow opera legends Jose Carreras and Plácido Domingo, inspiring a series of successful performances and recordings featuring “The Three Tenors.” Throughout his career, he drew record-breaking crowds at sold-out concerts around the world. He had planned to teach upon his retirement, but was diagnosed with cancer while preparing to resume his farewell tour.

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