28 Maggio 2007

Streisand concert cancelled amid price row

Legends of stadium rock, be warned: Italian fans may be reluctant to pay lavish three-figure sums to see you roll out the old classics.
That appeared to be the message to emerge from a row over steep ticket prices for a Barbra Streisand concert, which has now been cancelled.

Fresh from her record-breaking comeback tour of the US, Streisand was clearly relishing her visit to Europe in June, telling fans via her website: “I can`t wait to experience these different audiences and different cultures.“

But Italy isn`t so sure. Consumer groups have been campaigning against “shameful“ ticket prices of up to ?850 (£575) to see the 65-year-old diva. Yesterday, their outrage appeared to have hit the mark, as it emerged that the tour-opening concert in Rome would no longer go ahead on June 15.

Organisers denied they were pulling out because of the outcry, citing “production difficulties“ instead. But one of the consumer groups, Codacons, said that was unconvincing. “We see a link between our protest and possibly lower than expected ticket sales, which may have prompted organisers to pull out and save face,“ said spokesman Stefano Zerbi.

Organisers were not available to comment on sales, although tickets were still available on the internet last week, a week after going on sale. That contrasts with Streisand`s first two London dates, which sold out within a day.

“I went online to find a ticket for a friend who is a huge Streisand fan,“ said Manuela, 23, a Rome-based law student who complained to Codacons. “But I needed to spend around ?400 for an average seat, which is too much for me, for most Italians and is a form of social discrimination.“

Last week Codacons demanded that Streisand lower prices and also allow in 2,000 elderly and unemployed fans free. Streisand`s first date has now been shifted out of Italy altogether, to Zurich.

A keen promoter of social causes, Strei-sand donated part of the proceeds from her US tour to charity. But that did not wash with Mr Zerbi, who said that “?800 means something different here than in London. At those prices she was not welcome in Rome.“

The concert would have been the first in Italy for Streisand. Accompanied by a 58-piece orchestra, she was due to take the stage at the Flaminio stadium, host to Italy`s Six Nations rugby matches. The stadium is owned by local government. Codacons and fellow consumer group Adusbef said that the stadium was “public property and cannot be used for immoral deals that are shameful to a civilised country“.

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