SCMP Friday, February 16, 2001

Madonna is Pavarotti's dream partner

Luciano Pavarotti, the world's most famous opera singer, says he would love to sing a duet with ''Queen of Pop'' Madonna.
''That is my dream,'' said the Italian tenor, clutching a heart-shaped box of chocolates to his ample frame at a St Valentine's Day news conference in London.
At 65, he is still far from contemplating retirement. But he did predict he would not sing as long as his 88-year-old father, Fernando, who is still in fine voice.
And he was in contrite form too, admitting he had piled on more than 11 kilograms when he was meant to be on yet another diet.
Asked if he would like to sing with Madonna, he said: ''It is my hope. Madonna has a very clear idea. She promised me to come if we could sing together Caro Mio Bene (My Dear One). She is probably busy. First she make the baby [she had a son Rocco with film director Guy Ritchie]. Then I don't know. If you give me a contact [for her], I thank you very much.''
''Caro Mio Bene is a baroque aria. Don't make a big story. She told me in confidence,'' a beaming Pavarotti quipped to reporters amid laughter.
Pressed on his retirement plans, Pavarotti said: ''I will tell you after the Tosca I am singing here next year (at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden).'' Asked if he might go on as long as his father, he said of his own golden voice that has made him a multi-millionaire: ''It will be retired by then.''
Pavarotti was fiercely proud of his legacy - helping to popularise opera in his ''Three Tenor'' concerts with Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo, revealing that contracts were being discussed for an appearance at the 2002 World Cup. ''I hope we are there... it is in the making,'' he said of the proposed concerts at the soccer bonanza being staged in Japan and Korea.
Pavarotti was in Britain to publicise plans for his July 14 concert in London's Hyde Park. His last concert there in 1991 saw British royalty and politicians soaked to the skin but transfixed in their seats by his singing. ''I will never forget [seeing] Princess [Diana] and Prince [Charles] and all the politicians of different parties sitting in the front row and remaining seated without umbrellas,'' he said.
Pavarotti was peppered with questions about his love life - he has divorced his long-time wife Adua and left her for his former assistant Nicoletta.
Asked if they were to marry, he said: ''It is something very, very private. It is the most private thing for two people. They decide to do things when they want and it is exactly what we will do.''