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I paid a fiver for a tenor.

Byline: By JIMMY CUNNINGHAM

WORLD famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti once sang in Ireland - for a fiver.

And the man who brought him here reckons the 72-year-old star was worth every penny.

Monsignor Peter Shields, from Dundalk, Co Louth, has told how he went on to forge a life-long friendship with the great man.

The then 27-year-old tenor chose Dundalk for his first concert outside Italy before he became famous.

The cleric revealed how he bagged Pavarotti for a bargain.

Mgr Shields said: "The concert tickets were a half crown and bringing him to Dundalk cost around five punts. It was a wonderful night."

Remembering the first time he met the tenor, Mgr Shields said: "He was performing in Madame Butterfly in Belfast and we in the St Cecilia's Gramaphone Society went to see the production.

"We met Pavarotti and asked him would he like to come to Dundalk to sing.

"He told us he would be delighted to and said it would be his first concert outside Italy.

"You have to remember he wasn't any way famous at the time."

Pavarotti arrived in Dundalk on May 12, 1963, and spent a night in the Co Louth town where he performed Che Gelida Mamina from Puccini's La Boheme and La Donna E Mobile from Verdi's Rigoletto.

Mgr Shields described the singer as "charming" and "very charismatic".

He added: "At that time he was tall, thin and very good looking."

The concert also marked the beginning of a long friendship.

Mgr Shields said: "We did keep in touch and I did get to see him perform when he came to Ireland.

"We met up and he was as charming as ever."

Mgr Shields added: "I had spoken with his family about three weeks ago. It is very sad that such a lovely man with a great voice has gone."

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1963 Pavarotti before fame beckoned; MEMORIES: Mgr Shields with the 1963 programme of Pavarotti's Dundalk concert
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 13, 2007
Words:325
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