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Concert For Tenor Great Pavarotti Raises UN Funds

Even In Death, Tenor Great Pavarotti Raises Funds For UN Causes

New York, Oct 14 2008 11:10AM

Fellow tenor greats Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo sang alongside contemporary musicians such as Sting and Italy’s Zucchero at a charity concert at the historic site of Petra, Jordan, on Sunday in honour of the late Luciano Pavarotti to raise funds for United Nations aid projects on what would have been the maestro’s 73rd birthday.

Pavarotti’s widow and concert organizer Nicoletta Montovani was aiming to raise €4 million ($5.4 million) for a joint project by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to help some 150,000 vulnerable former refugees, especially women and children, who have returned to their homes in Afghanistan.

As a UN Messenger of Peace, Pavarotti, who died of pancreatic cancer last year at the age of 71, was a committed supporter of UN work for refugees and displaced persons around the world. For more than a decade, he supported UN projects in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Pakistan, Zambia and Iraq and in 2001 received UNHCR’s prestigious Nansen Refugee Award for his unswerving commitment to refugee causes.

With the rose-coloured, rock-hewn monuments of Petra as a backdrop, the audience of 500 included Pavarotti's friends and family, Jordan’s Queen Rania and other members of the royal family, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, diplomats and fans from around the world.

The concert was held under the patronage of Jordan’s Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, daughter of the late King Hussein and herself a UN Messenger of Peace.

Besides Carreras, Domingo and Zucchero, a Who’s Who of opera stars performed, including Andrea Bocelli, Roberto Alagna, Angela Gheorghiu, Cynthia Lawrence and Sherrill Milnes, as well contemporary singers such as Italy’s Jovanotti and Laura Pausini. Accompaniment was provided by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Kohn.

The 12-month project to be funded by the concert aims to construct four schools in Afghanistan, provide health, skills and literacy training, and build micro-hydropower and irrigation canals. It will begin in January and the Government of Italy has announced a donation of €2.1 million.

Mr. Guterres told the audience all four schools would be named after Pavarotti, a major supporter and fund-raiser for UNHCR over many years.

Noting that leading governments were spending hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up failing banks, he said: “I think this concert is here to remind the world that the same determination must be shown to rescue the lives of millions of people facing the risks of hunger, disease and conflict.”

The three-hour concert started with Carreras performing “Chitarra Romana,” a favourite of Pavarotti’s. He was then joined by Domingo for a duet before other artists, many of whom had sung in a series of ‘Pavarotti and Friends’ concerts that raised money for UNHCR and other causes, came on stage. Sting, accompanied by an oudh (lute) player, sang his hit song, "Fields of Gold."

Footage of Pavarotti in full flow loomed over the stage on huge screens. Zucchero performed an uncanny duet with the image of the old master. The night was rounded off with a rousing recording of Pavarotti singing “Nessun Dorma,” the stirring aria from Puccini's opera “Turandot,” which brought the tenor global stardom when he sang it at the opening ceremony of the 1990 World Football Cup in Italy.


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