No cheap seats for Three Tenors
Very few failed to miss the irony that only the very rich or well connected obtained decent seats for Saturday's concert by the Three Tenors at the Forbidden City.
'I'm furious that the tickets cost so much. It seems like a conspiracy. Tickets would never cost that much in the United States. Why are they ripping off the people of a developing nation?' fumed one reporter from the People's Daily, at last week's pre-show press conference.
In the endless rows of black folding chairs that blanketed the vast open square, where visitors normally purchase 40 yuan (HK$38) Palace Museum entrance tickets, only the first half of those in the US$2,000 (HK$15,560) VIP ticket section could clearly see the performance.
The next-best seats, priced at US$1,080, were given to the press, who were nearly a football field away from the stage.
Meanwhile, for the opera aficionados and general public who actually paid a minimum of US$380 to see the fourth concert by the three maestros, it was all but impossible to clearly discern what was happening on stage.
According to a report in the Southern Weekend, the tickets were expensive because Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras requested US$3.8 million for their appearance - the most they have ever received for one show.
Organisers are remaining silent on whether the night made a profit, but many speculate it was a money loser.
'I can confirm the show's total cost was about US$10 million,' said a manager at the China National Cultural and Art Company, 'but how much we earned is a trade secret.'
Contradicting a report in the China Daily, which boasted that 3.3 billion people in 110 countries were expected to view the programme on satellite television, the manager said the show had only been sold to Asia Sat-3.