Fourth tenor fills in for ill Pavarotti

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Flu forced the opera singer Luciano Pavarotti (pictured right) to pull out of a long- awaited concert last night and another tomorrow.

Pavarotti, the man with the highest, and broadest, profile of the "Three Tenors", was to have been the tenor soloist in Verdi's Requiem at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, yesterday, and with the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall, London, tomorrow. "He has been advised not to travel," a Philharmonia spokeswoman said.

But the concerts are going ahead with Roberto Alagna, the leading tenor of the next generation, filling in for Pavarotti, she said.

"He has been called the fourth tenor, and we are very grateful such a big name has been able to perform at such short notice," she said.

Alagna was flying in from Milan yesterday, back again for a performance at La Scala today and to Britain again for the Royal Festival Hall tomorrow, she said.

Pavarotti who, like his near contemporaries Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo, has been at the top of the operatic tree for more than 20 years, could not have more glamorous - or more symbolic - a stand-in than Alagna. With his partner, the soprano Angela Gheorghiu, the Franco-Sicilian has become a media darling in the last five years while making a sequence of award-winning recital discs and opera recordings, including Puccini's La Rondine and Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore.