An email arrived recently with this fantastic video of the Three Tenors, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, pictured above, signing “My Way” in the presence of the song’s author, Frank Sinatra. It brought to mind the 1999 Three Tenors concert my wife and I had the privilege of attending at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium in it’s final year before being torn down.
Because my employer, Ford Motor Company, sponsored the event, we were able to get great seats in front of the stage located in center field of the stadium. We’re somewhere in the above photo! Below is an excerpt from a well written article about the event, written in 2007 at the time of Pavarotti’s death.
Pavarotti Provided a Great Concert in '99
Friday, September 14, 2007
By Jo Chiparo, Staff Writer
The crowd converging into Tiger Stadium on that warm, July evening wasn't there to see a baseball game. Some of the special guests were dressed as though they were attending the opening of a Broadway play. Actually they were attending "a first" as they exited their limos and white Hummers dressed in long, evening gowns and tuxedos.
It was July 17, 1999, and we weren't with the select few who had valet parking and box seats but stood in the long line that wrapped around the block waiting for the gates of the baseball stadium to open. With threats of rain and umbrellas restricted, guests entering the gates were handed raincoats in small plastic packets. However, the weather cooperated, and as the sun was slowly dipping in the West, Motown's Aretha Franklin opened the concert with her stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Then the three tenors entered one by one and sang alone. First there was Domingo, then Carreras -- and finally Pavarotti. Wearing a black tuxedo, he entered the stage with his arms extended and waving an oversized white handkerchief. The exuberant crowd gave him a standing ovation. During the three-hour show, the tenors sang medleys and also sang alone. Pavarotti sang everything from "Recondita armonia" from Puccini's opera Tosca to Frank Sinatra favorites.
As the sun dropped below the horizon and the lights flooded Tiger Stadium, the music continued under the stars. There were rounds of thunderous applause and shouts of "Bravo!" Even the food offered on the field was special including shrimp cocktail, fresh strawberries with sour cream and champagne. As I sat through the extravaganza, I reminded myself that I had to savor these moments, that it was magical and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Days before the extravaganza, there had been rumors that Pavarotti would cancel due to illness and that he may soon retire. Carreras had been suffering from leukemia, so I doubted the three would return for a concert.It was only a few months after the concert that the lights went out forever at Tiger Stadium. Nothing is left on the field but shadows that hide ghosts of the past and memories of happier times.
A few days ago, Pavarotti was laid to rest, his magnificent voice stilled forever. As I watched his funeral televised from Modena, Italy, the memories of that magical evening came flooding back -- Pavarotti bigger than life flashing that magnificent smile, wiping the perspiration from his brow with his famous white handkerchief, but most of all his beautiful voice.
Comerica Park has replaced the old Tiger Stadium, but I'm not sure that there will ever be another tenor that will replace the charisma and the voice of Pavarotti, the elementary school teacher who got sidetracked into a fabulous singing career.
Jo is a staff writer for the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached by mail at P.O. Box 129, Linton, Ind., 47441.
The Three Tenors even autographed a baseball shown below that was recently auctioned off on eBay for $117
The concert inspired one of Tiger Stadium’s hot dog vendors named Charlie Marcuse to sing while selling his ware around the stadium. Charlie is pictured below.
We’ve had seats to ballgames in his area and find the singing entertaining, but some patrons complained to Tiger management, who forced him to stop for a while, but that created many more complaints from attendees who enjoyed his vocals. Finally, a compromise was reached where Marcuse could only belt out his songs between innings, which seemed to work to everyone’s satisfaction. He even has his own line of mustard, named Charley's Ballpark Mustard. He was more of a hotdog than the dogs he was selling!