Imagine the scene, grandiose enough to come from a Wagner opera. The great tenor arrives for a concert and rises as if by magic to his suite, where caskets of drink and platters of food fit for the gods are laid on for him.
All this will happen when Luciano Pavarotti turns up for his one-off concert at Hyde Park on 14 July. An industrial jack will lift the car carrying Pavarotti from the park to his suite near the stage. Organisers have had to carry out the elaborate manoeuvre as one of a series of demands in the singer's contract.
Even by the bizarre standards of superstar demands, Pavarotti's contractual stipulations, revealed yesterday, are extraordinary. The most remarkable are the measures to avoid that irritating hazard for performers: walking to the stage, or walking to the dressing room, or just, well, walking. The heavyweight tenor is prepared to sing. But walking is another matter.
His contract aims to ensure that at no point will he have to walk more than nine metres (25 feet) from the point where his people carrier drives him into the park, to the point where he actually has to sing on stage. To ensure the great and heavy man's demands are met, the organisers of next Saturday's concert, Safeway supermarkets, the Prince's Trust and the veteran promoter Harvey Goldsmith, have agreed to build a metal road to ferry him across the park, and a hydraulic scissor-jack to lift him – still in his car – to the VIP suite, which is attached to the back of the stage.
Pavarotti leaves little to chance. His stipulations include the kind of car that he must be lifted in. A "single man car" or golf cart is requested.
Less surprisingly to those who have followed his career, his contractual "rider document" which lists his personal requests, also calls for a small, or not so small, banquet in his air-conditioned suite. The menu includes white rice "for 10 people", 10 grilled chicken breasts, a large pot of vegetable broth, five litres of Evian water, two crates of Coca-Cola (not Pepsi), one large basket of assorted fruits, one bowl of green and red apples, one large plate of assorted cheese, to include, of course, Italian goats' cheese, and one large plate of assorted cold cuts of meat.
Perhaps it is a good thing that a supermarket chain is putting on the concert.
It is just a pity that Heals or Harvey Nichols aren't joint promoters. For the contract also stipulates that the dressing room has a deep pile carpet, cleaned but "not freshly painted" walls, a full length mirror, and a television and video recorder with five "classic Italian-language films".
In the bathroom the maestro tenor requests "quality soap and boxes of soft tissue". And there must be "no purple objects in the room". Pavarotti is apparently superstitious about the colour; so audiences really wanting fireworks on 14 July need only present the singer with a sea of purple T-shirts, purple hats and purple dresses.