Imagine if you had a ticket to see legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti sing, but that performance was outside, it was pouring rain, and umbrellas were entirely blocking your view.
This was the dilemma facing thousands of fans at a 1991 charity concert in London’s Hyde Park — a problem remedied by none other than Princess Diana. When concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith took the concert stage, he politely asked the audience to “lower their umbrellas.”
“The first person to jump up was Princess Diana,” says Goldsmith in this clip. “Who had a guy standing with her with an umbrella. She said, ‘Take the umbrella down.’ There was this ripple effect all the way back through the audience. Everybody put their umbrellas down and the concert carried on.”
This exclusive clip above from Pavarotti, a new documentary about the singer from director Ron Howard, shows this iconic moment when Princess Di willingly exposed herself to the elements to help ensure that everyone in the crowd could see.
Pavarotti responded by dedicating his next aria to her, the translated title of which is “I Have Never Seen a Woman Like That.” The moment laid the foundation for a firm friendship between Pavarotti and Princess Diana, which is chronicled in the film.
Following this concert, she joined him for the celebratory dinner, and they soon formed a mutual bond that inspired Pavarotti to shift the focus of his work to philanthropic efforts and benefit concerts. Princess Di was renowned for her charitable efforts and the causes she dedicated her life to — the documentary outlines how her commitment to this fostered a new and crucial part of Pavarotti’s life.
“It was just cinematic as hell. And glamorous. And so it was always going to be in the movie,” director Ron Howard tells EW of the sequence shown in this clip and Pavarotti’s relationship with the princess. “We began to see, talking to others about his timetable, and this period where he was a little bit at sea — the philanthropy reinvigorated him and gave him a new sense of purpose. That wasn’t something that we identified right away; it became apparent to us through the interviews and then looking at the timeline. So it became more pivotal. It was always going to be there because it was interesting and glamorous, but it became more narratively significant to us as we went along.”
After delving into the life of the Fab Four with The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years, Howard turns his eye to famed tenor Luciana Pavarotti, pulling back the curtain on the populist icon who brought opera to the people. Howard combines never-before-seen footage, intimate interviews with Pavarotti’s family and contemporaries, and clips of some of the singer’s most renowned performances.
Pavarotti hits theaters June 7.