The 1994 World Cup soccer championship was coming to Los Angeles, my hometown.
Thousands of fans from all over the world were coming, including three famous opera singers: Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. They were called the Three Tenors after having performed together after the World Cup in Italy in 1990. The maestro for that concert had been Zubin Mehta, who was from India, but now was the conductor of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra.
It was rumored that the Three Tenors and Mehta were trying to plan a concert in Los Angeles.
My daughter in Washington read a short mention about the plan in the back of a sailing magazine she was reading on her lunch hour. It had little information but did include a phone number. She sent the letter to her mother and me and asked if we could check it out. We called and were told the date was not set but plans were in the works. The cheapest seats would be about $35, but no tickets were available yet. The venue was going to be Dodger Stadium.
To guarantee seats we should send in our payment. We took a chance and sent $140 for four tickets.
We didn’t hear anything for months and the event was now starting to be advertised in California. One day I got home and found a big envelope in the mailbox. I took it in to my wife and we opened it.
All kinds of things fell out: Tickets, seating plan, reserved parking placard. The seating plan showed we had some of the best seats available. I wondered when we would get billed for such an upgrade. We called and spoke to the same representative we had placed our original order with. She told us there was no further charge, and this was our reward for trusting them with our money so early in the process. The event was sold out.
Our seats were right behind home plate, looking over the infield seats. There would be an elevated stage for the 100-piece symphony orchestra and two choirs.
My daughter flew to California and when the night finally came, we took our seats and watched the rich and famous taking theirs.
Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly were in the front row. Arnold Schwarzenegger was there and several other actors. Former President George Bush and his wife, Barbara, were there too.
The chatter stopped, the musicians were at the ready and the maestro raised his baton. The concert started with a beautiful overture that filled the cavernous place with music. There was thunderous applause, which doubled when Jose Carreras came out from backstage.
The orchestra played and Carreras sang. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t in English. It was marvelous. Next was Placido Domingo and then Luciano Pavarotti. Then it was all of them together, singing a medley of songs, including some in English.
They sang “My Way” in honor of Frank Sinatra, who was on his feet throwing kisses, and they sang “Singing in the Rain” to honor Gene Kelly. Pavarotti’s “Ava Maria” brought tears to your eyes. There was absolute silence in the place as he sang.
When they finally left the stage together, the concert appeared over. But the audience would not stop applauding, so they came back and sang some more.
They had three curtain calls and finally said they had no more music. They said they would sing “Nessun Dorma” a second time. It was beautiful and as they walked away the applause was deafening.
Reluctantly we walked through the door to our car. It netted me a whack on the noggin with several concert programs when I remarked, “I guess that was worth 35 bucks.”
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