New York – After a 40-year career that has established him as perhaps the world's most beloved opera tenor, Luciano Pavarotti (search) has just released "Ti Adoro," his first-ever pop album.
As if that weren't enough of a dramatic twist in the life of Maestro Pavarotti, he is soon to be married to his longtime girlfriend Nicoletta Mantovani, with whom he has an 8-month-old daughter, Alice (pronounced AH-lee-chay). He has also made a few music videos.
"Alice was born during the making of this record," Pavarotti told Fox News just before signing CDs and photos for fans at New York City's Tower Records, a block away from where he has performed in some of the world's greatest operas — the Metropolitan Opera house.
"She has inspired me so much," he said of his daughter. "I dedicate this record to her."
Pavarotti said he had turned down doing a pop album for years, thinking it wouldn't fit with his career. But after the tremendous success of the Pavarotti and Friends (search) concerts and albums, in which he collaborated with popular artists such as Sheryl Crow and Elton John, he felt compelled to cross over into their world.
"Little by little I realized it is something very important and useful to do before retiring," he said.
Pavarotti has announced that he'll retire from performing and recording in 2005, at which point he may begin a new career as a teacher.
"Teaching I think is the most difficult thing, teaching is more difficult than singing," the 67-year-old told the Associated Press on Monday. "Why? Because you have to transfer a thought from your brain to the brain of the other person and the throat of the other person."
Pavarotti embarks on a tour in October that will take him to Mexico City, Trenton, N.J., London and other cities in Europe before he returns to New York for three performances of Tosca at the Met in March.
Last year, Pavarotti's last-minute cancellation of his performance in Tosca (search) caused uproar among opera critics and many of his fans.
"It was like an atomic bomb exploded in New York City," Pavarotti said of the firestorm. "So I cancel one and I repay with three," he said.
"Ti Adoro" is complemented by two music videos, one for the title track, a Fellini-esque production with lots of horns, dancers and circus clowns, and another for "Il Canto," a ballad.
The latter was filmed in the rural town of Pesaro, Italy, and features lots of farm animals, including goats and horses.
Music video veteran Phillip Stoltz, whose credits include videos for Madonna and the rock band Evanescence, directed the video for "Il Canto."
"It was the first time I shot with him, and he had this smile that lights up a room," said Stoltz. "It's moments like these when you suddenly understand why someone is a superstar," he said.
At the Tower Records appearance, fans lined up for hours for their chance to meet Pavarotti.
"I've seen him many times on stage," said New Yorker Meir Shecter, "but it's the first time I'm going to see him up close. I will remember this for a long time."
One fan who goes by the name Corneliu brought a CD of his own crossover music, or classical music intended for a popular audience, in the hopes of being discovered by Pavarotti (the maestro discovered opera crossover artist Andrea Bocelli.)
"His new CD is mostly crossover music, so I brought a demo," Corneliu said. "Maybe nothing will come out of it, but it is a very exciting day for me," he said, right before breaking out into a beautiful tenor for our Fox camera.
"Ti Adoro" hits record stores this month.