October 13, 2008 / 5:25 PM / 10 years ago

Stars come out to honor Pavarotti at Petra

PETRA, Jordan (Reuters) - Sting, Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo and other stars of popular and classical music honored late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti at a star-studded concert in Jordan over the weekend.

The orchestra performs at a tribute charity concert and memorial ceremony for the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti in Petra October 12, 2008. Proceeds from the concert will generate funds for projects in Afghanistan by the U.N. refugee agency and the U.N. World Food Programme, as well as for the Petra archaeological site 180 km (120 miles) south of Amman. REUTERS/Muhammad hamed

Ballads and beat echoed out from a camp overshadowed by the rose-colored walls that tower over the ancient rock city of Petra to toast Pavarotti a year after the 71-year-old singer died from cancer.

“It was a very special night. I feel I am in another dimension... it was wonderful that the dream finally came true,” Pavarotti’s widow Nicoletta Mantovani told Reuters.

On Saturday friends and family were involved in a memorial ceremony outside Petra’s Al Khaznah or treasury as part of a concert series, exhibition and other events to mark the life of a man who helped make opera lovable among the modern masses.

The weekend concert was originally planned for the ancient city center of Petra built nearly 2,000 years ago but was moved to a Bedouin camp nearby in deference to environmental and archeological concerns to protect the ancient city.

Archeologists have been worried about artists who seek to perform in spectacular locations from the Great Wall of China to ancient Greek and Roman and Egyptian structures.

Domingo and Jose Carreras, the two surviving members of the “three tenors” trio, said they were fulfilling the late maestro of Modena’s ambition to perform at one of the world’s great historical sites.

Others who appeared on stage included Angela Gheorghiu, Andrea Griminelli, and Cynthia Lawrence. The concert was conducted by Eugene Kohn of the Prague Philharmonia.

Princess Haya of Jordan, who is the wife of the billionaire ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, told the audience the concert was originally conceived by Pavarotti during his talks with her father, the late King Hussein.

Proceeds from the concert will generate funds for projects in Afghanistan by the U.N. refugee agency and the U.N. World Food Program, as well as for the Petra archeological site 180 km (120 miles) south of Amman.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres said they supported the concert because Pavarotti was a symbol of tolerance in “a world that was seeing growing conflict.”

“Pavarotti was a living legend who helped to highlight the plight of refugees and those in need. His spirit brings people together, even now,” Guterres said.

Reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi; editing by Paul Casciato

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