Luciano Pavarotti's plane had no sooner left the ground than the rumours started flying.
The official word was that the world-famous Italian tenor had to cancel his Copps Coliseum concert Sunday because of a cold.
But it seems countless fans in attendance knew better.
They knew, for example:
- That Pavarotti was flying to New York City to be with his sick girlfriend, Nicoletta Mantovani.
- That Ms Mantovani had ordered Pavarotti home because she wanted him to be with her on Valentine's Day.
- That Pavarotti was not happy with the quality of the New Hamilton Orchestra's accompaniment.
- That Pavarotti had lost his voice.
- That Pavarotti was unhappy with the sound and lighting systems.
- That Pavarotti had fled the city early in the afternoon and that in an effort to boost downtown businesses, the city waited to announce the cancellation until after people had already paid for parking and bought drinks and food.
- That Rocco Perri was in attendance on the grassy knoll at the back of the coliseum.
OK, we made that last one up, but all the rest were being bandied about Hamilton yesterday and being called into The Spectator in the wake of Pavarotti cancelling his Sunday night concert.
Concertgoers were upset that Pavarotti had pulled out, and for many it seemed the official explanation wasn't good enough, or true enough.
Many seemed to be looking for the darker side of the story to explain why they were left in the lurch -- their Valentine's Day hearts broken.
Obviously many believed a performer of Pavarotti's stature could not be brought down by a simple cold. There had to be more to the story.
As managing director and chief executive officer of Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc., Gabe Macaluso spent most of Sunday with Pavarotti.
And he spent a lot of Monday fending off queries and hearing new rumours as to what "really" happened the night before.
And what really happened, Macaluso said, was that Pavarotti came down with a cold centred on his voice box that prevented him from performing.
Three doctors examined the tenor shortly before the concert's scheduled 7 p.m. start.
"When he (Pavarotti) arrived on Friday he said Nicoletta stayed in New York with a cold and at least four other members of his entourage were sick," Macaluso said. "Everyone was more or less getting it and he got it. That's basically it."
As for all the rumours, Macaluso said there was nothing secret or devious in anyone's dealings.
"I heard one that said he didn't like the sound and lighting and that he didn't like this and that," Macaluso said. "We all know he's very focused on his work on the day of a performance. He even says he's a different man on that day. He's an artist and a perfectionist. The sound man said this more less goes on all the time and he has been with him for years."
Christopher Davis, a spokesman for Rudas Organization, the New York-based promotional company that brought Pavarotti to Hamilton, called all the rumours "ridiculous."
"These singers make their lives from a single muscle in their throat. The reality is they can't sing if it's a cold.
"What would have happened if he had gone on and his voice cracked and he couldn't continue. People would have been more upset.
"Operatic singers always want to be in top form. There's nowhere to hide it if they're not."
Davis said yesterday that Pavarotti was doing very well.
"I hate to even use the word recover. It's simply a cold. Unfortunately it's the kind of thing that can be detrimental to the operatic voice. It's a fact of life."
He said Pavarotti would be preparing for a Sunday concert in St. Louis at the Kiel Center. A week later he is booked into Columbus, Ohio. April 10 he has a concert in Las Vegas and April 24 will find him in Buenos Aires.
His summer schedule includes Beirut June 12, Stockholm June 16, Oslo June 26 and Bucharest Aug. 11 to celebrate a solar eclipse.
A tour of Australia and New Zealand is set for November.
Meanwhile, his other gig, as one of the Three Tenors with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, will take him to Pretoria in South Africa April 18 and Detroit's Tiger Stadium July 17.
And then, there's Hamilton on July 11, his make-up solo gig.