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Pavarotti surprises PM and wife with final encore

   
The audience at the Concert for Peace, which was sponsored by the YTL Group, was thrilled with the performance, especially the final encore, “Torna a Surriento” rendered beautifully by the legendary tenor, Luciano Pavarotti.

Pavarotti dedicated the song to the Prime Minister and his wife, saying, “Many people in the world like this song, but tonight I dedicate this beautiful song to the Prime Minister and his lovely wife.” Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah visited Surrento in 1962 and recently returned to the historic town after he announced his resignation as prime minister last June. Their favourite hotel there is the Hotel Imperial Tramontano***, where Ernesto De Curtis composed the song "Torna a Surriento" – "Come back to Sorrento" – reportedly on its terrace.

In September 1902, the president Guiseppe Zanardelli visited Sorrento, and stayed at the Hotel Imperial Tramontano. Then, the town was in a dilapidated condition. In a bid to get Zanardelli to do something about that, the song was written, inviting him to return to Sorrento to see its beauty. Since then, the romantic song has become famous worldwide.

Emerald Bay, voted one of the top 100 beaches in the world, was transformed for this extraordinary concert, with the stage built to feature the two-million year-old Pangkor Laut forest as the perfect backdrop. When Pavarotti came to Pangkor Laut Resort for the first time in 1994, he declared the island a paradise and dedicated the song, “O’ Paradiso”. “Now, it is even better,” he enthused. At a press conference a day before the concert, Pavarotti had said the concert would be his contribution for peace for the world.

Tan Sri Francis Yeoh surprised the audience at the beginning of the concert by introducing the song “Angel Tears”. The rights of the song was presented to him as a birthday gift by New York artist and painter, Vy De Fonsey.

This beautiful song was written as a tribute to the victims of the September 11 tragedy. Yeoh rearranged the music and it was sung by De Fonsey’s Malaysian friend, Patrick Leong to the accompaniment of the Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia. In the name of love, Yeoh dedicated the song to the audience. By the end of the song, there were very few dry eyes – most were touched by the poignant yet hopeful message so passionately delivered.

   
Pavarotti sang with gusto “Mattinata”,”Non ti scordar di me”, “Vesti la guibba" and ”Addio alla madre” and worked his magic by beautifully rendering “Che gelida manina” and “O soave fanciulla” from La Boheme. Pavarotti also performed a duet with American soprano Cynthia Lawrence – “Suzel, bon di” from L’amigo Fritz.

Other highlights included “Un bel di” from Madama Butterfly by Cynthia, and “Carmen Fantasy”, a solo by flautist Andrea Griminelli.

The audience gave a standing ovation at the end of the programme and enthusiastically begged for more from the maestro. The orchestra and audience even combined for a thunderous applause by clapping and stomping their feet. The maestro obliged with three encores to satiate their appetite – including the final encore “Torna a Surriento”, which holds a special meaning to the Prime Minister and his wife.

After the concert, the guests adjourned to the Emerald Bay beach for yet another surprise – a magnificent display of fireworks, which most guests exclaimed was the most splendid that that they have ever seen. A huge barge in the sea, hitherto hidden, unleashed the fireworks that continuously lit up the bay in a myriad of lights and thousands of colours. The finale saw the fireworks spark many huge red heart shapes that ignited in the sky, as if to remind everybody that love must conquer all***.

It was a night of nights, that many will remember the rest of their lives – and that's not a cliché!



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