ROME, 17 October 2002 -- A benefit concert featuring world famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti aimed at rallying support for the battle against world hunger raised more than US $220 000, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Thursday.

"We are delighted the concert was such a success and are grateful to Maestro Pavarotti, the Monaco authorities and Prince Albert, patron of the event. The concert was sold out and thanks to the logistical and financial support provided by our partners, every penny of the ticket proceeds will be ploughed directly into small-scale projects to improve the lives of some of the world's neediest communities," said FAO's Kay Killingsworth, adding that donations from individuals were still coming in.

Pavarotti, nominated UN Peace Messenger by Kofi Annan in 1998, is actively involved in supporting the work of several United Nations agencies and has staged many charity concerts around the world.

"When Pavarotti supports FAO, generously donating his time and lending his voice to the fight against hunger, it keeps the spotlight on what we are striving for," Killingsworth added.

The TeleFood Pavarotti concert, supported by the Principality of Monaco and dedicated to FAO and its TeleFood campaign, was held in Monaco's Grimaldi Forum on 12 October.

Pavarotti, who turned 67 on the evening of the concert, performed a selection of Verdi's arias, with six opera singers. An enthusiastic crowd of 1,800, including Princes Ranieri and Albert of Monaco, the President of the Republic of Slovakia, Rudolf Schuster and FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, gave the Maestro a standing ovation and sang him "Happy Birthday" in return.

FAO, the UN's largest specialized agency, plays a leading role in the fight to reduce the number of under-nourished people in the world - a number now estimated at more than 800 million.

Realizing that ending hunger cannot be achieved by governments alone, initiatives like TeleFood - an annual campaign of broadcasts and concerts - allow the Organization to reach a wider audience with its message of "Food for All".

TeleFood concerts and other events provide resources for hundreds of grass-roots, hunger-fighting projects around the world. For example, fruit growers in Armenia, women's groups in Bolivia, farming families in Cambodia, fish smokers in Mali and spice growers in Nepal have all benefited from TeleFood initiatives.

The concert, "Pavarotti canta Verdi", featuring the Montecarlo Opera Chorus and the Italian Symphony Orchestra directed by Leone Magiera, is due to be broadcast on Italian State television network RAI 2 on 15 November. The concert will later be made available worldwide to broadcasters who participate in the TeleFood campaign.