Three Tenors Reach Global Audience, Play to Disappointing Crowd in Paris

The Three Tenors may have reached a global audience of 2 billion people during their performance prior to the final game of the World Cup, but they had only 80,000 fans on hand in Paris's Champs de Mars park, acording to estimates by Paris police. That number was only 10% of the anticipated 800,000, most of whom stayed away because of unseasonably cold and windy weather.

With James Levine conducting the Orchestre de Paris, the almost-three-hour-long show near the Eiffel Tower featured José Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti, and Plácido Domingo singing popular songs and operatic favorites in English, French, Portugese, German, Spanish, and Italian. Performers and audience members were heavily clothed to keep warm. TV viewers could see empty seats throughout the park, even in the most exclusive seating areas.

The Three Tenors are one of the most successful musical acts ever assembled. Formed in 1990 to help Carreras regain his professional and financial position after a bout with leukemia, the trio has played to some of the largest crowds ever gathered for performances of classical music. Their recording of the 1990 Rome concert is the biggest hit in the classical genre. Combined, their two albums have sold over 23 million copies. Organizers of the Paris event hope to recover their estimated $10 million cost through sales of a third album and a video production.

All three tenors are big soccer fans, and predicted well before the World Cup that Brazil and France would appear in the final game. France's 3-0 romp marked the first time that the host country has defeated the defending champions. The victory launched a celebration in France that lasted the better part of the week.