Lloyd Webber's traumatic tenors

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 March, 1994, 12:00am

CHATTING to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber at a cocktail party last night, Keeping Posted mentioned the name of Luciano Pavarotti. ''Oh . . .'' mumbled the composer of Cats in a tone that suggested we might have stirred some traumatic memory.

Quite right. For Sir Andrew then went on to recall how he was asked at six weeks' notice to write the theme tune for the Barcelona Olympics to be sung by the three eminent tenors Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras.

''I was told there were three points I had to follow,'' he recollected, ''apart that is, from each of them having prominent singing parts.

''The song had to contain the phrase Amigos Para Siempre (which means 'friends for life' in Spanish), the word 'Catalan' to represent the province and , of course, the words 'friends for life' because it would be heard in English-speaking countries.'' The music completed, copies of the manuscript were sent out to Messrs Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras.

Being a consummate diplomat, at this point Sir Andrew decided to refer to them as tenor A, B and C.

''Tenor A telephoned me and said he thought it was a wonderful piece of music but he would only sing it alone. Tenor B then called to say he would sing but only with Tenor A. Tenor C then got back saying that he would sing it but only with a woman - suggesting Gloria Estefan for the part as he was apparently in love with her.'' The piece, entitled Amigos Para Siempre was eventually performed by Carreras and Sarah Brightman and became a worldwide hit. As Sir Andrew put it with a laugh: ''It came to a situation that I had to send for the ex-wife.''