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April 15, 2014

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Thomas & Mack Turns 25:

No. 24: Pavarotti plays the Mack

Pavarotti in Las Vegas

Beyond the Sun

Editor's Note: In conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Thomas & Mack Center's opening on Nov. 21, 1983, the Sun is celebrating the building's colorful history with a top 25 countdown - to No. 1 on Nov. 21, 2008 - of the biggest events held inside the arena located on UNLV's campus.

Famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti played La Scala in Milan, the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.

After his debut performance at the Met in New York, he received 17 curtain calls. That paled in comparison to his reception in Berlin after performing in Gaetano Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore.”

That audience lavished him with a record 165 curtain calls.

The larger-than-life opera singer also gave the first classical concert at the Thomas & Mack Center on March 3, 1985, the second of a nine-stop tour of the U.S. and Canada.

That Pavarotti’s performance was sandwiched between the Harlem Globetrotters and Disney’s “Magic Kingdom on Ice” showed off the versatility of the arena in its early days.

Apparently, the late Sunday afternoon concert was only mildly interrupted by overhead jets landing at nearby McCarran International Airport.

Wind gusts up to 50 mph changed their descent to right over the Mack.

“Yet his rich, robust voice was not to be overshadowed by the roar of the jets,” wrote Dennis Lee Askew of the Sun.

“The tenor’s magnificent delivery was intense, always on key and represented the purest operatic style ever heard on a Las Vegas stage.”

The same couldn’t be said of Askew, who spelled the great singer’s name “Pavoratti” throughout his piece. However, the tenor’s surname is spelled correctly under a photograph.

A crowd of more than 9,000 watched Pavarotti perform a program of his favorite Italian pieces in front of the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra and conductor Emerson Buckley.

He was rewarded with four encores and the first Las Vegas Medal of Honor, presented to Pavarotti by Mayor Bill Briare in a reception at the Riviera after the show.

Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Bono, of the rock group U2, attended Pavarotti’s grand funeral in Modena, Italy, on Sept. 6, 2007. Pavarotti was 71.

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