How sweet the sound of three tenors; FOR THE RECORD

Tonight in Detroit, the incredibly popular Three Tenors -- Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo -- will perform their 20th concert together. It's their only U.S. concert of the year, and their first to be broadcast live on the Internet.

It's hard to believe it's been almost a decade since the three began what has become an operatic industry. As an overture to the concert (available at at 7 p.m.), here are a few bits of Three Tenors trivia to hum through:


* Opening act: The first concert was during the 1990 World Cup soccer championship in Rome. Though they'd turned down offers to sing together before, all three tenors are huge soccer fans. The gig was a celebration of the World Cup, and of Carreras' miraculous recovery from leukemia.

* Bank notes: Proceeds from tickets to the first concert went to charity, and the tenors reportedly took only a flat fee for recording and broadcast rights. CDs and videos sold millions, costing them huge royalties. It's since been a different tune: During their 1996 tour, the tenors reportedly made about $1 million each per concert, not counting CD and video royalties.


* Music to their ears: The initial Three Tenors album recorded in Rome in 1990 is the all-time best-selling classical recording, with worldwide sales of more than 12 million CDs, cassettes and videos combined. Audio and video sales of the first two Three Tenors albums combined have topped 23 million.

* Where in the world?: Of the 19 concerts they've played so far, just three have been in the United States (Los Angeles, 1994; New York, 1996; Miami, 1997). Ten have been in Europe, two in Canada, one each in South Africa and Australia. The only town they've played twice: Tokyo.

* He's got the beat: Conductor James Levine is a latecomer to the Three Tenors extravaganza, having joined the trio for their 1996 world tour, replacing original conductor Zubin Mehta.

* A fourth tenor?: Among those handicappers say could hang with the Big Three someday are: the French-Italian Roberto Alagna; Argentinian Jose Cura; Italians Marcello Giordani and Giuseppe Sabbatini; Canadians Ben Hepp-ner and Richard Margison; and Americans Richard Leech and Gregory Turay.

Pub Date: 07/18/99