Pavarotti Memorial Concert of musical stars to help Afghan refugees

News Stories, 18 September 2008

© Pavarotti archive

MILAN, Italy, Sept. 18 (UNHCR) The widow of tenor Luciano Pavarotti has unveiled plans for a tribute charity concert and memorial ceremony to be held in Petra, Jordan on 11 and 12 October.

Under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint al Hussein of Jordan, a UN Messenger of Peace, the concert at the renowned archaeological site at Petra will generate funds for projects in Afghanistan by the UN Refugee Agency and the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

"It was Luciano's dream to sing in Petra," Nicoletta Mantovani told journalists at a press conference in Milan on Tuesday. "I'm very happy that this dream, thanks to princess Haya, is now turning into reality."

Some of the world's biggest stars of classical and pop music many of them veterans of the "Pavarotti & Friends" concerts will take the stage together on Oct. 12. They include Sting, Andrea Bocelli, Jovanotti, Laura Pausini, Zucchero, Angela Gheorghiu, Andrea Griminelli, Cynthia Lawrence and Roberto Alagna. The concert will be conducted by Eugene Kohn.

In a surprise announcement, Mantovani said Spanish tenor José Carreras who joined Pavarotti and Placido Domingo to popularize opera as the Three Tenors will also take part in the concert. Bono, the lead singer of U2, will also join through a video satellite link,

The concert will be broadcast by Mediaset on Italian Rete4, Iris and Spanish Telecinco, but "there are many broadcasters interested in showing the concert all over the world," said Mediaset president Fedele Confalonieri.

Elisabetta Belloni, director general for development cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also announced that the government of Italy will donate 2.1 million Euros (about $2.9 million) to UNHCR and WFP projects in Afghanistan.

Since 2002, over 5 million Afghans have returned to the eastern provinces of their country from Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere. The joint UNHCR/WFP projects will focus on the most vulnerable of them especially women and children and pay to construct schools, provide health, skills and literacy training, and build micro-hydropower and irrigation canals to bring electricity and improve agricultural production.

For over ten years, until his death in September 2007, Pavarotti actively supported UNHCR projects in Kosovo, Pakistan, Zambia, and Iraq. For his continuous commitment to refugee causes, Pavarotti received UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award and was named a UN Messenger of Peace.

"Pavarotti was not only an extraordinary tenor but also a man who did a lot for those in need, in particular for refugees. Over the years, he donated to UNHCR $7 million for projects aimed at improving the living conditions of the most vulnerable uprooted people," said Laura Boldrini, UNHCR spokeswoman in Italy. "We are grateful to Nicoletta Mantovani for keeping her husband's commitment alive."