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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 10:59 GMT
Met ovation as Pavarotti bows out
Luciano Pavarotti waves to the audience during the curtain call of Puccini's Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera in New York
The tenor said it could be his last staged performance anywhere
Opera legend Luciano Pavarotti has received an 11-minute ovation at his last stage performance at New York's famous Metropolitan Opera house.

The tenor, 68, wowed 4,000 fans as he appeared in a signature role as painter Mario Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca.

The singer previously said this would be his final staged Met performance.

But in an interview on Friday he said it would be his last night of staged opera anywhere - unless he became "lighter and able to run on stage".

"Tomorrow is a very important day,", he told the Associated Press. "It is the last performance on the stage... anywhere, I think. I think it's time."

On Saturday night, he received a 35-second ovation when he walked on stage and appeared to be overcome with emotion as he started his first aria, "Recondita armonia".

At the end, there was an 11-minute ovation that featured four solo curtain calls as everyone from the orchestra to the standing room section applauded and yelled "Bravo".

Retirement plans

When explaining his decision to leave the opera stage, he said: "Certainly, if I hear myself in the performance of [Wednesday] night, I have to say, 'Why are you leaving?'.

"And the answer is because I should be lighter and be able to run on the stage.

"And one day, in one year, if I am able to run on the stage, perhaps I don't retire. Who knows? Who knows? Miracles can happen."

Pavarotti has given more than 370 performances with the Met, where he debuted in 1968, more than any other opera company.

Ill-health has previously forced the Italian to cancel performances, including last year when he cancelled after catching flu in a dress rehearsal.

Two years ago he walked out of the Met before a disappointed sell-out crowd.

"Let's say that in the last 10 years there are a lot of performances that are not super," he said.


Pavarotti said in 2002 that he intended to stop singing completely on 12 October 2005, his 70th birthday.

He was planning to embark on a world tour before that, and to teach music and spend more time with his wife Nicoletta and their young daughter.

Pavarotti has delighted millions of fans over the years with his singing, but critics have not all been sympathetic to the singer's last few performances.

Past his vocal prime, one reviewer from the New York Times has described his farewell as a "prolonged and hapless exit".

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