If you get “so emotional” every time you hear Whitney Houston sing, this video may make you reach for the tissues. This video will have you wondering just what Whitney Houston couldn’t do as a singer. She steals the show from opera powerhouse Luciano Pavarotti, and renowned musicians Sting and Elton John in this video of the singers sharing a stage at the 1994 Rainforest Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall.
In this clip, the 4 music icons come together to sing the canzone “La donna è mobile” from act three of Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Houston follows Pavarotti during part of the aria. You can hear just what Oprah Winfrey meant when she dubbed Houston “the voice” as she enchants the entire benefit with her charismatic stage presence and massive sound.
As one of the most beloved tenors of all time, Pavarotti has left his mark on several popular roles in opera, including the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto. Pavarotti has trademarked the role of The Duke with his powerful voice, as captured in recordings of him singing “La donna è mobile” in the 1981 Metropolitan Opera stage production of Rigoletto and the 1982 Jean-Pierre Ponnelle film based on the plot of Rigoletto.
In this, you can see Sting applauding and Pavarotti reacting with an excited hand gesture as Houston shyly turns away after lighting the stage up for just a brief moment. After growing from a young gospel choir soloist to an internationally renowned pop diva, Houston’s talents took her far. Though her career was cut tragically short when she died in 2012, her performance of Verdi suggests she could have had a career as an opera diva, had she pursued that path.
At the same Rainforest Benefit Concert, Houston performed a moving rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” written and recorded originally by diva Dolly Parton, and which she helped to popularize through her recording for The Bodyguard soundtrack.