[This story was told by composer Lalo Schifrin on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, during an interview with Liane Hansen, September 16, 2007.]
Once I had a meeting with him (Pavarotti), in New York City, in his penthouse. All of a sudden in the middle of the meeting, a young German soprano singer showed up and she was accompanied by a gentleman. Luciano said to me, “Oh, I’m sorry. I have to interrupt this meeting with you because I forgot that I promised to audition her for the Luciano Pavarotti International Competition.” So he asked her, pointing to the young man: “is he your pianist?”
“No,” she said. “He is my boyfriend.”
“Oh, okay. Do you have any music?” asked Luciano. But she didn’t have any music and she didn’t have a pianist but she wanted to sing some arias. So I said, “I will accompany her.”
She was terrible. She was very, very bad. She sang out of tune and she couldn’t maintain the voice and so after awhile Luciano said to her, “Come over to my desk.”
He had an enormous desk with a big equestrian statue on it. Pointing to the statue, he asked the young woman: “Do you see the details of the muscles of the horse? Do you see all these details?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Do you think that the one who made this statue was a good sculptor?”
“Oh, absolutely,” she said.
“Well, you know, he had something to start with. He had the marble. I’m sorry to tell you this but you don’t have the marble.”