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Top tenors' venue gets a facelift
For the sake of a perfect and unprecedented combination of the essence of oriental culture with the art of the West, 600-odd workers are working day and night these days to give the ancient Forbidden City a massive facelift.
It will be there, on the most expensive and grandest stage in the country, that modern China's largest music production - the Three Tenors' Concert - will be held on June 23.
The current world's three most influential names in opera with its 400-year-long history, Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo, will sing there together for the first time in this new century to an audience of 30,000, and a huge television audience throughout the country.
The performance of arias from opera, the so-called "diamond in the royal crown of Western arts," in this consecrated space so closely tied to the heart of Chinese culture indicates an openness in this ancient country, which allows it to appreciate the excellence of other cultures as well as that of its own, said observers. The observers also predicted that the success of the performance would be good for Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympic Games.
But to make the night memorable is no easy task.
A total of 2,000 tons of scaffolding will be hauled into the Forbidden City to build the seats and stage. The project will take 1,000 cubic metres of wood and 20,000 square metres of special carpeting.
The organizers have also taken extra efforts to protect the centuries-old imperial buildings. For example, none of the stage, seats or sound and lighting equipment will contact the walls directly or be permanently anchored in the ground.
The Palace Museum authorities have also instituted a round-the-clock surveillance of the work to ensure that no damage should be done to the ancient venue.
The Chinese organizers have also made special efforts to make the concert accessible for opera fans. For the first time, the Chinese Government has agreed to issue visas to foreign ticket holders upon their arrival at the Beijing Capital International Airport. And tickets are available online in every corner of the world through the world's two largest ticketing companies, Ticketmaster and Ticketed.
Two satellite venues have been set up, one at Peking University and another in Chaoyang Park, which will allow more than 10,000 people to watch the concert on big screens, and about 10 million Chinese are expected to take in the concert via the country's Central Television Station. The main organizer Lu Changhe also said the concert was going to be recorded using the latest sound recording equipment, and that "the buyers of the recording will get five-year global broadcast rights, as well as compact and digital video disc rights."
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