Pavarotti's slim hope of singing without his supper

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The Independent Culture
Luciano Pavarotti has about as much chance of losing the recommended eight stone before his appearance with Elton John in New York at the end of the month as the fine-boned Vogue waif Trish Goff has of gaining eight pounds.

The 60-year-old pasta-loving opera star weighs in at 24 stone, four stone more than when he sang at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, in 1992.

His attempts at dieting - only two pasta meals a week and no bread or alcohol - have not paid off; one can only assume that the jogging machine his girlfriend, Nicoletta Mantovani, bought for him in April has collapsed under the strain.

Pavarotti will have received a severe jolt when he heard of the fate of Richard Versalle, the 63-year-old tenor with New York's Metropolitan Opera who died on stage of a heart attack last month. With a grim irony, he had just sung the line, "too bad you can only live so long".

Pavarotti is in a no-win situation, putting either his health or his career at risk. Exercise would strain his heart too much, and if he were to lose too much weight, the resonance of his vocal chords would suffer and his fans would forsake him overnight. But his obesity has caused him to cancel several concerts, blaming laryngitis. His real problem is breathlessness, and who would not be short of breath carrying around the equivalent blubber of a small whale?

Perhaps he should invest in a copy of Men's Health magazine. The June issue has a free supplement giving 101 men's health secrets. A whole section offers advice on "how to drop 10lb fast". Pavarotti could try some cunning tricks like speeding up his metabolism with chilli peppers and other hot spices, or listening to soothing music while eating (slows you down and stops you gulping down great vats of pasta).

The ultimate sacrifice for serious dieters is to sign up with Weight Watchers. Even then, you are only guaranteed a loss of half a stone in the first three weeks. One successful client did lose nine stone, dropping from 19-stone-plus to just over 10. But it took her five years.

Dell Gibbons, diet and nutrition editor of Slimming magazine, described Pavarotti as "morbidly obese - I certainly wouldn't imagine it would be safe to lose that amount of weight in less than a year".

Instead, Ms Gibbons advises him to aim for two pounds a week. "To lose eight stone, he would probably have to cut a leg off," she said.

Leading article, page 13

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