Joseph Mascolo (Stefano, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) was among many around the world who mourned the September death of famed Italian opera legend Luciano Pavarotti. The two men were actually friends. Here, Mascolo reflects on the talented tenor, their friendship and how much he’ll miss that one-of-a-kind voice.
Soap Opera Weekly: Condolences on the passing of your friend. Losing him must have difficult.
Joseph Mascolo: Oh, God. I spent a lot of time crying. He and I had a great time together. We worked together, which was a lot of fun. We also ate well and drank some good wine. It just hurts my heart that that voice is gone. I mean, there are a lot of great recordings of Luciano all over the place, but that voice is now gone. And that’s what kills me, because it is one of the most unique, beautiful voices of our century. A tenor like Pavarotti, all he had to do was sing three or four notes and you knew it was him.
Weekly: How long were the two of you friends?
Mascolo: Since we made the movie Yes, Georgio (1982).
Weekly: Did you hit it off immediately?
Mascolo: Oh, yeah. He was so funny. He looked at me the first time we met; my voice is a little deeper than most of the guys [who were around the set]. So he said, “Ah, you sing?” I said, “No, no, no. You sing. I’m the actor.”
Weekly: Can you share any stories about Pavarotti?
Mascolo: I’ll tell you a funny anecdote that I told him. We laughed our heads off over it. The first time he sang in the United States was in Florida. Joan Sutherland was the star [of a Miami production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in 1965], and I was sitting in the pit. I used to be a classical musician, and I was playing solo clarinet in the pit. Well, the tenor got sick. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but they had to replace him. Joan, who was a good friend of Pavarotti when he was young and first starting out, suggested him. He came in and was magnificent. I told him, “I was in the pit the first time you sang in the United States. Now here we are 20 odd years later, making a movie together.” So we laughed and cried and drank more wine.
Weekly: Did you ever visit Pavarotti in Italy?
Mascolo: Only once. I was up north, and Luciano was from up north. It was [a short visit], because he was going somewhere. I was there for THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
Weekly: Did you try to see him when he’d come to the States?
Mascolo: Oh, yeah, in New York, certainly. A few times when he was at The Met, if I was in town, I would go to see him.
Weekly: He sounds like a wonderful man.
Mascolo: He was a unique human being, and he was a very intelligent guy, too. Tenors are like boxers. You hit enough high C’s, and your brain gets a little rattled.
Weekly: In terms of what he was like, was it “What you see is what you get?”
Mascolo: Oh, yeah! He was bigger than life in every way, and he enjoyed life as much as he could. Some people frowned when he started doing a few concerts with rock-and-rollers. But what happened because of it is that people were more aware of opera than they were before. That’s why he would do it, because he wanted people to see that. I don’t even remember what concert it was that I saw, where you had the rock-and-rollers singing and then he sang. They would just stop and look at him like, “Oh, my God. What a voice. How can he sing like that?!” I think it was [Frank] Sinatra who said to Luciano, “How do you do that? How do you get that quality and strength of voice?” Luciano said, “I open my mouth.”
Weekly: The world is certainly a different place without him, isn’t it?
Mascolo: We’re lucky to have all the recordings, but it was like Caruso. Once that’s gone, it’s gone. It’s going to be a while before that is replaced.