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October 05, 1986|Martin Bernheimer

GRANDISSIMO PAVAROTTI by Martin Mayer (Doubleday: $40; 224 pp.). The jacket of this coffee-table extravaganza tells it all. The best-hyped singer--not to be confused with the best singer--in the history of Western civilization is depicted in the quintessential pose: His arms outstretched in universal embrace, his rotund frame decorated with white tie and tails, his left hand draped with the ubiquitous white hanky, his eyes beaming gratitude and his smile telegraphing ecstasy, Luciano Pavarotti acknowledges the adoring masses. The subtitle of the book tells more: "A Celebration of the Career of the World's Greatest Tenor on the Silver Anniversary of his Debut" (italics mine). Mayer's text represents an easy fusion of fan-magazine gush and hand-me-down hype. Nevertheless, a careful reader can find occasional flashes of intelligence amid the murk, and the photos--213 in black and white, 41 in color--are beautiful.

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