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Wherever he was performing in the world, Luciano Pavarotti always managed to find a someone willing and able to cook him a plate of his beloved tortellini. For this great Maestro, pasta was a link to his homeland, his childhood friends and the music lessons of his youth that his father, a baker, insisted he take.
Pavarotti once wrote of the time when, working as a young insurance agent, he rang a doorbell at lunchtime and – instead of selling a policy, he was virtually hypnotized by the taglietelle al ragù that he could see just beyond the doorway. Taglietelle cooked in the “Old Emiliano Style”, Pavarotti said, were the “one, irresistible dish that could defeat any of my virtue.” The tenor who, for much of the world, was the embodiment of Opera, definitively won the heart of New York in 1972 when he first performed at the Metropolitan Opera House (where he eventually performed 17 times in his career).
It is to this incomparable talent that the 2013 Edition of the Italian Talents by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna is dedicated. The United States has claimed this year – the 200th Anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday and the 100th Anniversary of the Opera Festival in Verona – the International Year of Italian Culture, and S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna have joined forces to pay tribute to the excellence and talents of Italians whose contributions have reached a global audience. So it was “Big Luciano” that was the star of the recent inaugural event celebrated in Lower Manhattan: AMOPavarotti – the initiative founded by the late Pavarotti’s wife Nicoletta Mantovani and the Luciano Pavarotti Foundation – was a preview glimpse of the exhibition by the same name that will open on April 22nd at the Arena Opera Museum in Verona.
In New York, famous guests and opera lovers mingled among the various rooms, featuring video projections, photographs, recordings and a live tribute by two young singers – the tenor Francesco Castoro and the soprano Elisa Balbo – along with a buffet prepared by Fini, with which Pavarotti had enjoyed a collaboration during his lifetime. “I began admiring him before he began admiring me,” wrote Pavarotti about Giorgio Fini in an open letter dedicated to the entrepreneur who brought Modena’s regional cuisine to the world.
He also described how, in 1912 Fini’s father and mother, opened a deli and charcuterie in Piazzetta San Francesco, just a few steps away from Modena’s great Cathedral. There, they served “maltagliati e fagioli” – a kind of rustic pasta and bean dish – to loyal customers and officers from the nearby military hospital. Over time, the family-run company’s products like tortellini, tagliatelle and zamponi won over a wide audience of gourmands: directors, actors, sports stars – and even Cardinals and Presidents.
And of course, at the cocktail party in New York honoring Pavarotti, the beloved tortellini were served alongside other Modenese specialties. The evening also served as the official launch of the Special Edition that S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna have dedicated to the Maestro.
The Italian tenor will be featured on a series of limited edition labels, whose bottles will be distributed to the world’s best restaurants. To celebrate Pavarotti once more, in the context of his other great passion, alongside music: his homeland and fine dining.