Luciano Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2006 the operatic legend lived for just over one year with the disease before his life ended in September 2007 at the age of 71.
In 2005 the classically trained singer underwent neck surgery and back surgery in 2006, but after those procedures various complications developed.
Pavarotti was forced to cancel several concerts in the USA, UK and Canada and his decision to retire from performing was also made around that time. It was during the “farewell tour“ that the star was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
In the same month he underwent further surgery at an undisclosed New York hospital. His manager at the time, Terri Robinson, assured the public that the tenor was doing well and doctors remained positive, the Washington Post reporting: “Fortunately, the mass was able to be completely removed at surgery … Mr. Pavarotti is recovering well, and his physicians are encouraged by the physical and emotional resilience of their patient.”
Over 40,000 individuals in the USA are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year, with around 80% eventually dying as a result of the disease. The survival rate is relatively low and only around 5% of those having contracted the illness live for more than five years beyond diagnosis. Despite those daunting statistics Terri Robinson remained optimistic that the Farewell Tour would resume in early 2007.
In the year before his death Pavarotti underwent five rounds of chemotherapy and was hospitalised after contracting a fever in August.
Following his death, Terri Robinson released a statement saying: “The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life … In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness.”
The singer, who became heavily associated with his acclaimed performance of Nessun Dorma, from Puccini’s Turandot, was said to have remained collected until the very end by his doctor, Antonio Frassoldati, who said that the tenor was “always totally conscious of the situation, he always sought to fight the disease… and he was very calm”.
Luciano Pavarotti has been hailed for bringing opera to a wider audience and his voice became the mark of the 1990 football World Cup. He commented: “We’ve reached 1.5 billion people with opera … If you want to use the word commercial, or something more derogatory, we don’t care. Use whatever you want”, the BBC reported.