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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Saturday, 23 June, 2001, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
Tenors hit high notes in China
Three Tenors
A crowd of 30,000 watched the concert
Under tight security, the Three Tenors have performed a landmark concert before a crowd of 30,000 in the ancient Forbidden City in central Beijing.

The concert, which took place in a vast open-air courtyard at the former imperial palace, was part of a series of events aimed at promoting China's bid for the 2008 Olympics.

Hundreds of police and members of the paramilitary Peoples Armed Police surrounded the area for the event, closing off pavements and stopping and questioning some pedestrians.

Workers in the Forbidden City, Beijing
A massive effort was needed to prepare the venue
The Associated Press reported at least one man being beaten and dragged away. Police also reportedly punched and arrested a news photographer.

Inside the palace, the concert got under way without incident as the Three Tenors - Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras took the stage.

Dramatic lighting

Two giant dragons flanked the stage, and the palace's temples and pavilions were dramatically lighted.

It's great that it will draw positive attention to China, just like the Olympics will

Sun Hang
The crowd cheered enthusiastically as three Chinese sopranos joined the tenors for an encore of the drinking song from Verdi's La Traviata.

Flowers were also presented by a group dressed in elaborate traditional Chinese opera costumes.

"It's great that it will draw positive attention to China, just like the Olympics will... we want the world to hear our voice," said Sun Hang, who was in the audience.

Speaking before the concert, Pavarotti said the performance was the tenors' statement of support for Beijing's bid to host the Games.

"I think Beijing deserves the Olympics in order to be with all the rest of the world, recognised," he said.

Gala event

National leaders including President Jiang Zemin were understood to be attending the event, which was also expected to attract an audience of millions on television.

Live feed of Three Tenors concert
Crowds outside watched a live feed of the concert
Also on the guest list at the $10m event were former South African President Nelson Mandela and Hong Kong film stars Chow Yun-fat and Jackie Chan.

The concert, held on World Olympics Day, comes three weeks before the International Olympic Committee meets in Moscow to select the venue of the 2008 games.

Beijing's key rivals are Toronto and Paris, while Istanbul, Turkey and Osaka, Japan are also in the running.

See also:

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02 May 01 | Arts
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King of the high Cs
26 Apr 01 | Music
Countryside theme for Proms
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