‘Pavarotti’ relives that magical time he romantically serenaded Princess Diana in the rain

The operatic life of legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti is on full display in producer/ director Ron Howard’s documentary “Pavarotti” (screens Tuesday in 600 theaters via Fathom Events; opens Friday in select cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago; expands throughout summer).

But nowhere is the drama more fairy-tale-like than the enchanting scenes from the 1991 “Pavarotti in the Park” concert, when the Italian opera star serenaded a rain-drenched Princess Diana in front of 125,000 fans (and Prince Charles) during a downpour in London’s Hyde Park.

It was a romantic high-water mark for the most famous singer in the world and “The People’s Princess,” and the beginning of an enduring friendship.

“It was the tenor who met the princess in the rain of Hyde Park,” says Dickon Stainer, president of Classics and Jazz at Universal Music Group, then a young classical music executive in the audience who witnessed the scene as it played out on the park’s giant screens. “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.”

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Luciano Pavarotti with Princess Diana after his famed 1991 concert in Hyde Park, where the tenor serenaded a rain-soaked princess. (Photo: ZUMA PRESS, INC./ALAMY STOCK PHOTO)

The heavy rain could have spelled disaster for the charity concert; Pavarotti even suggested calling it off that morning. But coming off the global success of “The Three Tenors” concerts, London showed up in force in the rain to see Pavarotti at the free show. As promoter Harvey Goldsmith took to the stage to urge fans to put down their umbrellas to keep from obstructing the view, a remarkable shift took place.

Princess Diana, in the VIP area next to Prince Charles, was one of the first to take her umbrella down. The act sent ripples through the audience, as fans put theirs down as well.

“You could see it on the screen as Diana proceeded to get completely soaked,” Stainer recalls. “It played right to her ‘People’s Princess’ image, Diana not bothered about the buckets of rain. And they formed this bond.”

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