When Pavarotti came to Dundalk

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LMFM holiday documentary about famous singer Louth’s solo performance – his first outside Italy

Monday’s special holiday documentary on LMFM is A “Five for a Tenor” transporting us back to May 1963, when a then-unknown tenor took to the Town Hall stage, Dundalk for his very first solo performance not in. an opera outside Italy. Her name? Luciano Pavarotti.

“A Fiver for a Tenor” explores a story which, on first reading, might be considered a local legend. But as we dig deeper, even local legends are often based on fact.

It was the spring of 1963 – Eamon de Valera was president and Sean Lemass, Taoiseach. In the south of the country, preparations were well advanced for the visit of US President John Kennedy in early summer. In Dundalk on May 7, a group of opera enthusiasts who together formed the St Cecilia’s Gramophone Society traveled to Belfast to attend a performance of Puccini’s La Bohème at the Grand Opera House. Waiting nervously backstage before his performance that day was a man whose name would soon become recognized around the world. That name was Luciano Pavarotti.

A few days later, the then 27-year-old was scheduled to perform in Dundalk, stopping over with other Italian singers as he traveled to Dublin to take part in the opera Rigoletto organized by DGOS – Dublin Grand Opera Society (as Opera Ireland was then called) – at the Gaiety Theater.



The amount paid for his performance at Dundalk? Five punts, with each ticket sold for half a crown. Five days later, on May 12, 1963, the now famous Pavarotti took to the small stage at Dundalk Town Hall and gave his very first solo concert outside of Italy, in front of a small but admiring and accompanied audience only. of a piano. He performed Che Gelida Mamina by La Bohème by Puccini, La Donna E Mobile by Rigoletto by Verdi as well as a role in Puccini’s Butterfly Duo.

“A Fiver for a Tenor” explores the story behind how a world-famous name began his international solo career on a humble town hall stage in Ireland. Sr Leonie Marron, a lifelong friend of Bishop Peter Shields, who helped us organize the evening, helps us piece together this story. Sr. Leonie recounts the strange rules that existed in the church at the time which meant that Bishop Shields could arrange trips for the Society to these concerts in places like Dublin and Belfast, but was not allowed to attend many performances because it was forbidden. by the archbishop of the diocese. Also interviewed are Paddy Brennan of DGOS and Niall Morris, founding member of “The Celtic Tenors”, who has put on a show about Pavarotti’s life.

The hour-long radio documentary from Little Road Productions Ltd will air at noon Monday, October 25 on LMFM.


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