Romantica: The Very Best of Luciano Pavarotti doubles as a compilation of career highlights and as the sort of "love songs" collection record companies often release just before Valentine's Day. The careers of classical artists, particularly opera singers, don't usually lend themselves well to this sort of treatment, in which arias are excerpted from operas out of context as if they were pop songs. But Pavarotti has straddled the classical and pop worlds, and he has a large audience of fans who have never stepped into an opera house but are happy to hear him perform the pieces he frequently sings in concert. The album does make some attempt to trace his history, including tracks dating back to 1971's "Una Furtiva Lagrima" from Donizetti's L'Elisir D'Amore, accompanied by early booster Richard Bonynge conducting the English Chamber Orchestra, and also including "Che Gelida Manina" from Puccini's La Bohème, which recalls Pavarotti's debut at La Scala, a 1973 recording with Herbert Von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. Such works are balanced by popular songs like "O Sole Mio" and "Funiculi, Funiculà," and the album's romantic theme is furthered by the inclusion of such tracks as "Passione." The collection concludes, appropriately, with "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot, an aria that has come to be closely associated with the singer. Romantica may not be the type of album that will appeal to opera fans, but for the mass of more casual admirers of Pavarotti, it may be the one disc of his they will want in their collections.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|La bohème, opera|
|L' elisir d'amore, opera|
|Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527|
|Così fan tutte, opera, K. 588|
La danza. Tarantella Napolitana ("Già la luna è in mezzo al mare"), for voice & piano (Soirées musicales)