PEOPLE: £625 to see Pavarotti in a parka and jeans

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The Independent Online
First there was Pavarotti in the park. Now, Pavarotti in a parka. A brisk Atlantic breeze, combined, perhaps, with a desire to identify with his laid-back audience, led Luciano Pavarotti to appear at a Miami Beach concert this week in parka, white Andy Capp-style hat, sneakers and what appeared to be stone-bleached blue jeans.

The only sign of his "signature tails" - which the official programme said he would wear - was on the T-shirts selling briskly on the sands alongside the hot dogs and Budweiser Lite. In an area better known for its Art Deco and the culture of rap and roller skates, front-row tickets changed hands for more than $1,000 (£625).

There were only 800 paid seats but more than 100,000 people turned the concert into an all-ages Woodstock, laying out deck chairs or blankets and tucking into crab claws and Chardonnay. "Oh, man, that was the Super Bowl of opera," enthused one fan after Pavarotti sang O Sole Mio, drowning out the words of the Elvis version from some beer-swigging youths at the back.

The most famous pregnant woman in the Philippines, Kris Aquino, has tearfully apologised on television for causing a scandal in her family, but she stood firmly by her man.

The actress daughter of former President Corazon Aquino said she hoped to reconcile with her family, with whom she has fallen out over her relationship with Phillip Salvador, a married actor who is 20 years her senior.

"I'm really very sorry that it is because of my actions that this kind of scandal has come to our family," said Ms Aquino, 23. "I miss my family very much."

Her pregnancy has drawn criticism from some church leaders in the heavily Catholic Philippines, who said she was a bad example for young people, and has embarrassed her deeply religious mother. But Ms Aquino said she had "no regrets as far as loving Phillip is concerned", but acknowledged she "did not wait for the right time" to become pregnant. That, she said, was due to "the problems of being young [and] impulsive".

On his state visit to India this week, Nelson Mandela was in a self-deprecating mood, joking about his old age and eye problems. The South African President, during a lecture in New Delhi, recalled meeting three young women who wanted to shake hands withhim, knowing him to be a figure of some repute.

As they walked away, one turned back to enquire: "By the way, what is your name?"

He also recalled a five-year-old girl who could not guess how old he was (76) or how many years he had spent in prison (27). She finally asked: "You are a stupid old man, aren't you?"

At one point during his address, Mr Mandela removed the dark glasses he has worn in India to protect his deteriorating eyes. "I am not crying as I say this," he explained.

"This is only my unique manner of drawing attention to myself."

Is Argentina ready for another President Juan Domingo Peron? The former leader's namesake nephew plans to challenge the neo-Peronist President, Carlos Menem, in elections in May. Partido Justicialista sources say Mr Peron has submitted the 350,000 signatures required for the challenge.

Maryann Bird