Three tenors bow to force majeure

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The Independent Online
In the end it came down to pulling power. John Major is unlikely ever to fill Wembley Stadium, but when push came to shove he proved himself a bigger draw than the Three Tenors.

Messrs Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras - in Britain for a special concert tonight - had been scheduled to visit Mr and Mrs Major in Downing Street. But shortly before they were due to set off from their Wembley rehearsals their management asked that the Majors come to them.

With both sides mindful of the photo opportunity in prospect, delicate behind-the-scenes negotiations were set up.

"The level of security around Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras is too high to allow them to come into central London," a surprised civil servant in Mr Major's private office was told.

The two sides debated who were the bigger VIPs and who had the more involved security requirements. In the end, the Prime Minister scored a rather striking victory and the three mountains came to Mohammed.

Meanwhile, other VIPs - those able to pay pounds 995 for a best ticket and after-concert "dine with the stars" package tonight - could face a shock when they arrive at the stadium.

Most of the best seats are in the open air, and with a forecast of scattered showers tonight the pounds 1,000 bottoms may be wet ones by the time they get to eat with the Three Tenors in the Wembley Banqueting Hall.

Although this is alleged to be the last time the Three Tenors will perform together anywhere in the world, 4,000 of the 58,000 seats remain unsold. Normal prices range from pounds 35 to pounds 350, and, despite the unsold tickets, box-office takings will top pounds 7m.

A spokesman for the promoters, Hoffmann Concerts, said: "Tickets remain unsold in covered and uncovered areas. The forecast is good and people should not worry. The staging will be beautiful and the singers are in a very good mood. I saw the concert in Tokyo last Saturday and some people were so moved that they came out crying."

A selection of popular classics, including the inevitable "Nessun Dorma", are promised. Mr Major and his wife, Norma, are expected to attend, their VIP status not in doubt.