‘Pavarotti’ Documentary Remembers the Tenor Serenading Princess Diana in the Rain

In 1991, famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti had a magical moment in the rain with Princess Diana. Ron Howard’s new documentary about the opera singer’s life, Pavarotti, recalls how special the moment really was for the two global superstars. Keep reading to learn how the serenade became much more.

‘Pavarotti’ remembers the singer serenading Princess Diana in the rain

July 30, 1991 is a significant date for Pavarotti. On that day he performed in London’s Hyde Park, called “Pavarotti in the Park,” during which he serenaded Princess Diana (who attended with her then-husband Prince Charles) in a torrential downpour of rain in front of 125,000 people.

Dickson Stainer, now the president of Classics and Jazz at Universal Music Group, was lucky enough to witness the magical moment between Princess Diana and Pavarotti firsthand.

Back then, Stainer worked as a music executive and watched the moment unfold on big screen TVs in the park.

Princess Diana and Pavarotti
Princess Diana, Princess of Wales and opera singer Luciano Pavarotti at Hyde Park concert July 30, 1991, in London. |Anwar Hussein/WireImage

It was the tenor who met the princess in the rain of Hyde Park,” Stainer said in an interview for the documentary.

“That romantic image of Pavarotti addressing a princess has gone down in history as an iconic moment in our popular culture. He allowed everyone to dream a little,” he added.

Pavarotti’s serenade to Diana almost didn’t happen

Revealed in the documentary, Pavarotti’s free concert in the park almost didn’t happen.

The rain in London that day made the singer suggest canceling the event. But thousands of fans were prepared to withstand the inclement weather because the performance came on the heels of “The Three Tenors” concert tour.

Serenade came after fans put down umbrellas

Harvey Goldsmith walked onstage to ask fans to brave the rain without umbrellas so everyone could have an unobstructed view of the stage.

No one did as asked until Princess Diana closed her own umbrella while sitting in the VIP section with Prince Charles. Once she closed her umbrella, everyone in the crowd followed suit.

Princess Diana
Princess Diana with wet hair at Pavarotti’s concert in Hyde Park | Tim Graham/Getty Images

Stainer remembers when it happened. “You could see it on the screen as Diana proceeded to get completely soaked,” he said.

“It played right to her ‘People’s Princess’ image, Diana not bothered about the buckets of rain. And they formed this bond.”

Pavarotti jokingly asked Prince Charles for permission

The concert went on with the crowd soaked by the rain when Pavarotti dedicated his song, “Donna Non Vidi Mai,” or “I Have Never Seen a Woman Like That,” to Princess Diana. He jokingly asked Prince Charles for permission.

As Stainer recalls, whether or not Prince Charles gave him the OK, he probably would’ve continued with the song anyway.

Pavarotti documentary clip showing serenade | YouTube

“But there was going to be no stopping Pavarotti. He was an irresistible force,” he said in the documentary. “Even the future king of England was not going to be able to do anything about that moment.”

Director Ron Howard calls serenade ‘amazing’

Actor-turned-director, Ron Howard, who directed the documentary, expressed his amazement with the footage of the Pavarotti singing to Princess Diana. He called it “amazing,” according to USA Today.

He continued, saying what question continues to go through his mind when he watches the serenade.

Ron Howard
Ron Howard attends the Pavarotti New York Screening at iPic Theater on May 28, 2019, in New York City.|Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

“But I keep looking at that scene, and it’s Pavarotti singing to your wife. And she’s just blushing,” Howard said. “How would you feel?”

After the epic concert in the park, Princess Diana and Prince Charles made an unplanned visit to the after-party where they met Pavarotti. It was then that Diana and Pavarotti became friends. In fact, Diana’s charity work inspired the opera singer to give back himself.

Another memorable moment at the other end of the emotional spectrum is when Pavarotti attended Princess Diana’s funeral wearing sunglasses and a solemn face after she died in a tragic car accident in August 1997.

Pavarotti will be released on June 7, 2019, in select theaters with a wide release continuing throughout the summer.