The Concert of the Century
As CEO of Headquarters Entertainment Corporation (presenter), and later (after a legal struggle with my original partner trying to cancel it) directly as Toby Simkin for Hoffman Concerts Inc. (producer), presented The Three Tenors live New Years Eve concert on 31 December 1996 from BC Place Stadium with 52,200 seats.
Labeled by the press as the “Concert of the Century“, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti with conductor James Levine teamed up for this unique event.
The VIP seats were $2,000 each, with more “premier seating” available at $1,750 and “preferred” seating at $1,250. Other seats were available in several categories from $650 to a low of $45.
Neighboring hotels and restaurants saw a bump of about $5.5 million in visitor spending as a result of the concert.
The one night concert was the same production cost as a Broadway musical today… Close to $15 million in 1996 dollars … So the risk to recoup by combination of sponsorship, merch and selling 52,000 tickets in prices ranging from $2000 down was huge and the stress was massive…. Each of the stars and conductor additionally required absolutely identical conditions in their riders, even with uniquely different tastes and conditions, making hotel suites, flights, ground transport, rehearsal, catering, dressing room fit-out etc.. especially challenging. Lots of issues to pull it off, but by the skin of our teeth and goodwill of the German partner Hoffman Concerts, we somehow made it.
It was a wild and mucky adventure. Thank goodness for a great, great stage manager (Steven Crouch, PSM from The Phantom of the Opera) who saw me falling into the last minute abyss of sales/marketing/sponsorship/legal and talent management, picked up the mantle and kept the physical production rolling along (staging, rehearsal, set, musicians, lighting, sound etc…) while I dealt with producing madness behind the scenes. Stage Managers make (or break) a show, Great Stage Managers can make a bad show great. Steven’s work was one of the happiest memories to this day, and I will be forever grateful.