U2achtung have posted an article from French magazine ‘VSD’ and have kindly provided a translation:
During the traditional Pavarotti & Friends evening, the Italian tenor and Bono sang an aria by Schubert as a duet. On this occasion, the frontman of U2 came off like a saint. A rare quality which only certain artists possessed by a fervent love of the public possess.
Pavarotti touched me! Literally. I was daydreaming, seated in front of the tent reserved for artists, pass around my neck, just before the beginning of the charity evening “Pavarotti and Friends” which has been held since 1992 at a park on the outskirts of Modena in Italy. I must have had my usual beatific goofball air about me as I looked at him. “Maestro Luciano Pavarotti” (as was posted on the front of his dressing room) sort of rested his hands on me with that jovial and radiant attitude you see when he sings. What was I doing here, anyway?
It’s simple. Two weeks ago, Bono’s assistant had made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: follow my hero for two days, be present at the rehearsals and press conferences. The program was announcing that he would interpret, as a duet with the maestro, the Ave Maria of Schubert. And so he did, but grafting in words of his own creation, which he sang with an innocent, shy fervor. [cites most of text] The next day, the lyrics were translated in the daily newspapers. The only words the French press finds worthy of being quoted are by rappers expressing their personal and societal frustrations.
When you’re in Paris with Bono, you’re with a star; when you’re strolling with him between Bologna and Modena, you’re with a holy man. About 50 young people camped in front of his hotel from dawn to dusk, and then all night. In the street, a girl on a bike runs across him, comes to a halt, and takes his arm, glowing, crying “Che fortuna!” ( “What luck!”)
I’ve often heard singers say they feed on the energy of the public. Not having experienced it, I never quite knew what they meant. Even offstage, Bono seems to be levitating, carried high on the arms of others. I saw him answer the questions of at least fifty journalists (I am not exaggerating) in an insane atmosphere, always with the same calm, the same kindness, the same conviction. He did not refuse a single autograph. Afterwards, at supper in Pavarotti’s inn, people kept coming up to him, as respectfully as if they were about to meet Gandhi.
Those two days taught me something: charismatic artists, those whose love of the public is the deepest possible, aren’t trying to be anybody. (Quite unlike the narcissistic “celebrities”of today’s media world, who spring up as fast as weeds on a highway embankment and are mown down with equal speed, but are all convinced that they are someone.) At the end of the day, they see nothing exceptional or interesting in themselves. To the contrary: what makes Bono Bono is that he thinks that he himself is nothing, is only there to be made use of, to serve what is best about humanity.