Outstanding artists, a stunning setting and a good cause — Music Beyond Boundaries seemed a sure-fire recipe for success.
Despite a nip in the desert air, impassioned performances by soprano Donna Zapola, tenor Coke Stuart Morgan and pianist Ioannis Potamousis radiated warmth from the heart.
A few hundred people turned out for the one-off musical concert, in support of the people of the West Bank, held at Al Sahra Desert Resort, Dubailand, on Thursday night.
The spotlight homed in on the three artists in the middle of an enormous stage set in a man-made lake.
Eager listeners were taken on an hour-long operatic cruise through highlights from the works of Puccini, Verdi, Mozart and Chopin plus songs from Broadway musicals such as My Fair Lady and Kismet.
Yet the experience was spoiled by the chattering classes, who did not have the courtesy to leave their outdoor dinner tables for the experience they had supposedly come to see. Instead of joining the audience in the amphitheatre just a few paces away, they chose instead to treat the world-class performers as background music to their constant chirping.
Moments of dramatic pause in musical composition were ruined by laughter from those behind.
Still, it was worth enduring the annoyance just to listen to Potamousis play Liszt's Spanish Rhapsody. As we watched the pianist lose himself in the show's centrepiece, we too became mesmerised by the music which took our breath away, but sadly not that of those behind us.
The dramatic work was masterfully executed — from light, rippling melody to urgent intensity — and proved the highlight of a well-produced, if ill-appreciated, concert.