held his farewell concert in Taichung on Dec.
14, when his rich vocals and passionate Italian
flair lit up the city's night skies and reverberated
in the hearts of Taichung residents. This was
Pavarotti's second visit to Taichung after a 15-year
absence, and he looked as great as he did before.
One of the world's greatest tenors chose Taichung
to be the last stop of his farewell world tour
in Asia, in a decision that surprised both Japan
and Korea, and put Taichung city into the international
limelight. On Dec. 14, fans from Taiwan and around
the world gathered at the Taichung Stadium to
listen to his beautiful voice, helping establish
Taichung once again as Taiwan's most international
Evening temperatures that dropped
to only about 15 degrees Celsius with a cold winds
did not stop 20,000 fans from cramming into the
stadium, together with many celebrities from the
political, entertainment and art world. Like pilgrims,
people came from all over the country to hear
for the last time this "voice that has been
kissed by God". Although it rained lightly
at the start of the concert, the audience was
entranced once Pavarotti began to sing, his beautiful
voice and his unpretentious Italian style drawing
exclamations of "bravo!" from listeners.
Musical director Leone Magiera
and his piano accompanied the first half, with
Pavarotti starting with three Italian folk ballads.
After each song, he thanked his fans for their
non-stop applause. There was not a single dull
moment in this excellent concert and, by its second
half, Pavarotti's vocals had completely warmed
up as he performed Aria (Recondita Armonia to
E lucevan le stelle) from Puccini's opera Tosca.
His passionate performance led
to continuous audience calls for encores, which
he obliged with renditions of his famous Italian
folk songs. An unified gasp went up from the audience
as the orchestra began to play "O Sole Mio".
Combined with the gorgeous stage lighting, this
well-known song warmed and touched with its simple
charm. Seeing the listeners waving their concert
programs, Pavarotti spontanously raised his arms
and began conducting, guiding the audience to
join in his rendition of the famous duet Brindisi
of La Traviata, bringing the concert to a final
"It is truly moving to have a mayor who works
so hard at raising the cultural standards of a
city," said Commonwealth Publishing Group
founder, Professor Charles HC Kao, who traveled
south to Taichung for the concert.
Even after listening to the encores,
Professor Kao was still emotional about the experience
and said that city and county mayors should try
to improve the lives of people with non-political
activities. Taichung city succeeded in this endeavour,
overcoming many difficulties to provide a truly
memorable cultural experience for all of Taiwan.
According to Taichung City Mayor
Jason Hu, being able to invite Pavarotti means
that Taichung city has already gained a certain
fame internationally for cultural development.
From a cultural perspective, Mayor Hu believes
that Taichung has truly become a cultural city
in the last few years, making him well-known as
the "Cultural Mayor" to the media and
citizens. Specifically, the average number of
times that Taichung city residents have participated
in cultural or artistic activities each year has
risen from 4.1 to 19.5 times. Taichung city tops
this category within Taiwan, and is also ahead
of the pack within the Asia-Pacific region.
Mayor Hu is also very optimistic
about the future cultural development of his city.
The Taichung City Outdoor Amphitheater, designed
to seat up to 15,000 people, is nearing completion,
with a "Taiwanese Performer Arts Festival"
planned after its opening. A variety of artists,
including May Day, Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera
Company and YoYo Ma, have already expressed interest
in performing at the new amphitheater. Mayor Hu
notes that the architectural design has been finalized
for the Metropolitan Opera House, which is expected
to be completed by the 2009. With soon-to-be-completed
high-speed railway connecting Taichung to all
culture and art lovers in Taiwan, the city's performance
culture is bound to grow even richer, as it evolves
into a creative, energetic cultural metropolis.