London, April 7 : Late opera legend Luciano Pavarotti faked his last public performance before he died of cancer last September, it has emerged.
In February 2006, an ailing Pavarotti rose from his wheelchair at the opening of the Turin Winter Olympics to give a rich rendition of the aria Nessun Dorma.
But, now details have emerged that the opera singer was uncertain of his weakening voice and faked the live appearance in front of a TV audience of millions, using video trickery, careful lipsynching and a compliant orchestra that pre-recorded its backing days earlier.
The disclosure comes in a loving but candid memoir published by Leone Magiera, a conductor and pianist who performed at Pavarotti's side in more than 1,000 concerts.
Magiera revealed that for his swansong in Turin, Pavarotti dubbed his voice in a studio over an earlier performance by the orchestra. On the day before the opening ceremony, the legend recorded a video of himself performing on stage to ensure synchronisation of his lips and voice.
This recorded sound and video were then passed off as a live performance, with shots of Pavarotti standing before his audience cut into the broadcast.
"On the evening of the ceremony, the orchestra pretended to play for the audience, I pretended to conduct and Luciano pretended to sing. The effect was wonderful," Times Online quoted Magiera, as writing in 'Pavarotti Visto da Vicino' (Pavarotti Seen from up Close).
"Pavarotti's great career thus ended with a virtual performance, something that was a bit sad but inevitable. It would have been too dangerous for him, given his physical condition, to risk a live performance in front of a global audience," he added.
Magiera said that the trick took days to set up.
"First I recorded a number of versions of the orchestra playing the aria, then [I] took the tapes to the small studio at Pavarotti's house in Modena," he said.
"He selected the right version before I directed him alone as he sang along, while being recorded. He found the force to repeat it until he was completely satisfied. Then he collapsed on his wheelchair and closed his eyes, exhausted," he added.