Domingo, Florez, other opera stars open World Cup in Red Square

Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov, Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, Russian coloratura soprano Albina Shagimuratova, Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez, Russian soprano Aida Garifullina, Azerbaijani tenor Yusif Eyvazov perform during a gala concert dedicated to the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Red Square in Moscow. Photograph:( Agencia EFE )

Agencia EFE Moscow, Russia Jun 14, 2018, 12.41 PM (IST)

Tenors Placido Domingo and Juan Diego Florez, among other opera stars, on Wednesday, gave their musical tribute to the World Cup in a grandiose gala held at nightfall on the magic stage of Moscow's Red Square one day before the iconic sports event gets underway.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin in attendance, several thousand people filled the stands set up on the huge square to enjoy a concert in which soprano Anna Netrebko, one of the greatest voices in Russia, also participated.

"This is our musical tribute to the World Cup," famous pianist and World Cup ambassador Denis Matsuev said in introducing the event, going on to play Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No. 1" accompanied by the Mariinski Theater Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Valery Gergiev.

Both he and the other host at the gala, Russian model and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova, emphasized how at the inauguration of the Italy World Cup in 1990, with the legendary performance of the three tenors - Jose Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti and Domingo - "thousands of soccer fans who had never been to the opera became fans of the classic music."

Domingo, who was presented as a "legend," first sang - as a baritone - the duo of Felipe and Rodrigo from the opera "Don Carlos," by Giuseppe Verdi accompanied by another opera great, Ildar Abdrazakov, a bass.

Peru's Florez, meanwhile, received resounding applause for his aria as Tonio from Gaetano Donizetti's "The Daughter of the Regiment."

The other well-known performers at the gala were Yusif Eyvazov, Aida Garifullina and Albina Shagimuratova.

Domingo will travel on Thursday to Sochi to attend the Spanish team's first match against Portugal the next day.

Before Wednesday's concert, he recalled that he had also attended the 2010 South Africa World Cup, at which he hefted the Cup aloft after Spain won it, saying that he was confident La Roja would do the same this time around.