Pavarotti threatened to shoot himself as relationship with 'money-mad' wife fell apart
12th September 2007
Luciano Pavarotti wanted to shoot himself in despair over the state of his failing marriage as his life ebbed away, his closest friends claimed yesterday.
The 71-year- old tenor complained that his second wife and former secretary Nicoletta Mantovani, 37, tormented him and left him isolated from friends and family.
He said she was obsessed about how his £250million fortune would be divided after his death and had forced legal papers on him to sign.
The astonishing claims come from conductor Leone Magiera and his gynaecologist wife Lidia La Marca, friends of the legendary singer for more than 30 years.
They said Pavarotti, who died last week of pancreatic cancer, had asked that they speak out after his death. Their explosive account, published in an Italian newspaper, sent shockwaves around the country.
Dr La Marca told La Stampa newspaper how she and her husband had visited Pavarotti last month as he was treated for pneumonia in Modena hospital.
"In Luciano's room there was us, our daughter Eloisa, Nicoletta and the child she had with Luciano, Alice," she recalled.
"Luciano looked tired and it was hard work for him to talk but he was lucid, he talked about football and made a few jokes with Leone.
"Then at a certain point he surprised us all by asking everyone to leave and I was left alone with him. I saw Nicoletta's face go white."
Dr La Marca went on: "He just unleashed himself like a child.
"He said: 'I am in a bad way. In these last years Nicoletta is tormenting me, she makes me live alone, I am isolated, my friends don't come and see me anymore, she speaks badly about my daughters and she surrounds me with people I don't like.
"He was desperate and I know that he was very close to Veronica. To give you an example, it was she who dressed him and put his make-up on after he died."
Dr La Marca added: "This went on for 20 minutes. He also said: 'She thinks about money all the time, she arrives with documents for me to sign. She threatens to not let me see Alice, and she has these scenes'.
"Then he said something which gave me goosebumps. He said, 'You know, Lidia, how this will end? Either I will shoot myself or we will separate'."
Terri Robson, the maestro's manager of more than 20 years, disputed the claims about Nicoletta yesterday.
"The only subjects I witnessed them arguing seriously over in the year leading up to his diagnosis were his fitness and his diet," she said.
"Simply put, she always tried to make him eat less and exercise more and this made him angry."
Miss Robson blamed "a couple of old friends who are doing Luciano a disservice by spreading malicious gossip about the wife he loved".
She described how Nicoletta had arranged a masked ball for her husband's 70th birthday in his home town of Modena, Italy, with hundreds of guests.
She said: "The celebration was a complete surprise and he loved it. Luciano thought he was just going to have a quiet dinner with Nicoletta."
Miss Robson added that after his cancer diagnosis Nicoletta slept in a camp bed and travelled between New York and Italy because Pavarotti insisted his daughter should not see him in hospital or break her routine.
The La Stampa story appeared on the front page and was written by the respected newspaper's opera critic Alberto Mattioli.
It was illustrated with a picture of the tenor and his wife and the headline read: "Pavarotti: Nicoletta is tormenting me. Tell everybody after my funeral."
Dr La Marca said: "I am telling this because Luciano asked me. He said: 'After my funeral you can say these things'.
"I think it's my moral duty to do so and this is exactly what he told me.
"I asked him if I could do anything, whether I should speak to his wife. He stopped me and said: 'I'm telling you not to say anything to Nicoletta. She will make me pay'."
Earlier this week the Mail reported that a bitter battle was looming over Pavarotti's £250million legacy.
As the Maestro's health deteriorated in the year before his death last week, his relationship with his second wife fell apart.
Adua Veroni, the first wife he divorced acrimoniously after 36 years in 2000, is understood to have become close to him again.
It is against that background that the tenor's will - incorporating several properties in New York, Monte Carlo and Modena - was changed as recently as a month ago as he lay on his deathbed.
Insiders said the changes were in favour of his three daughters from his first marriage - Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana.
All three had sided with their mother after the split but recently had a rapprochement-with their ailing father.
Intriguingly, friends of Pavarotti claimed this week that Nicoletta made a recent dash to New York to find ownership documents related to his various properties.
Dr La Marca, who is based in Bologna, recalled the hostility between Pavarotti's first wife and the much younger woman he left her for.
"I remember a night in London when Adua and Nicoletta confronted each other. We were all in the same hotel.
"He called me at 2am and said: 'Lidia do me a favour, go down there because those two are going to kill each other'."
Dr La Marca also recalled how even as he neared death, Pavarotti was joking about his legendary appetite.
"He was having a meal with his sister and daughters. He couldn't eat. In fact for a few days he hadn't been able to eat pasta and he said: 'One thing for sure, the fact that I have to eat puree instead of macaroni is a bad sign'."
When contacted by the Daily Mail yesterday, Dr La Marca said: "I stand by everything I said in the interview."
Pavarotti's will is locked away in the safe of the notary appointed to handle his estate.
Luciano Buonanno told the Mail: "My professionalism as a public official forbids me from revealing what is in the document other than to the people who are named in it.
"Once it has been read it is a public document and available to anyone. For the time being it is here in my safe and there it will stay - all I will tell you is that it is worth millions."
He said he had taken down Pavarotti's "last will and testament" on July 29 at the tenor's seaside villa in Pesaro, near Modena. His wife and young daughter were away.
"I said to him, 'Good morning Maestro, how are you?'
"And being a joker, Pavarotti said that apart from being in bed and not being very well he was fine," he recalled.
"He looked very thin, but he had lost none of his powerful figure and he had all his hair. I spent two hours with him taking down what he dictated to me."
Under Italian law 25 per cent of Pavarotti's wealth will automatically go to Nicoletta and 50 per cent will be split equally between his four daughters.
That leaves a tantalising 25 per cent - which Pavarotti could have bestowed on whomever he wished.