Some 2,000 free tickets to attend a concert to be offered by Spanish tenor Placido Domingo here on July 17 were snapped up Sunday even before the official start of their distribution in Chile, organizers said.

The reason the tickets went to fast is that thousands of people turned out on the coldest morning so far this year - minus 8.5 C (17 F) in some neighborhoods - and stationed themselves at the three distribution points, whereupon organizers, to avoid disorder, issued numbers to the members of the crowd according to which they would be allowed to access the ticket booths.

Thus, when the ticket booths actually opened, all the tickets were - in effect - already taken, that is to say that people had already received numbers whereby they would be able to claim them all.

Domingo is in Chile to star, starting on Monday, in the opera "Il Postino" at Santiago's Municipal Theater, in which he plays the poet Pablo Neruda.

In addition, he will perform in the Movistar Arena on July 17 to commemorate the 45th anniversary of his debut in Chile, in 1967, the show for which the 2,000 free tickets were made available, amounting to about a sixth of the venue's capacity and where Domingo will present a selection of pieces ranging from opera arias to popular music.

"We expected a lot of people, but what's impressive is that there was a very orderly process. The people came much earlier than expected and everything went very normally," Municipal Theater manager Francisco Torres told reporters after the tickets had been distributed.

The Spanish tenor also will participate in a dinner intended as a fundraising tool to help with the reconstruction of the Municipal Theater's scenery and set workshops, which some time back were destroyed in a fire. EFE