Great Tenor Performances is a collection of 18 well known arias sung by 12 of today's top tenors. As you would expect each of the "3 tenors" gets a chance to show their wares, as do a number of other famous singers, including Roberto Alagna. The compilation of performances has been taken from different productions and theatres between 1981 and 1996
and the quality of the recordings varies greatly.
Consequently, the disc as a whole suffers from a lack of continuity. The screen format changes from standard 4:3 to widescreen and back again and this combined with the
varying video quality make for a disjointed presentation. The makers have strung it all together by introducing each aria with a title screen of uniform style. While this does help to give some degree of consistency it is still obvious that this collection has been put together from whatever they could get their hands on.
Despite its continuity problems this DVD still manages to live up to its title. The overall sound quality is excellent and the tenors featured are nothing but the best. However the number of arias sung by the various singers does seem unbalanced. Given Pavarotti's dominance of the opera scene it is surprising that he is only featured once and it is disappointing that we do not get to hear from Jose Cura.
Irrespective of its shortcomings I would recommend Great Tenor Performances to all opera fans. We all know the excellent sound quality that DVD provides and nothing seems to accentuate this better than opera. Never again will I be able to watch one of my VHS opera recordings without cringing at the humming and hissing that accompanies it.
As discussed the video quality varies from aria to aria. By far the best are the two arias taken from a 1996 production of Verdi's Don Carlos sung by Roberto Alagna. This is the most recent recording on the disc and it certainly shows. It is in widescreen format, the picture is sharp and the colours vibrant.
This is a lot more than can be said for a number of other pieces. Domingo's rendition of "Ch'ella me creda" from Puccini's La Fanciulla del West appears washed out and grainy and the transfer quality of Carreras' aria from Verdi's I Lombardi makes it look like it was filmed in the early 70s rather than 1984.
By DVD standards the overall video quality is poor but one needs to consider the filming environment. The excerpts are taken from live theatre performances so it's no surprise that they don't come up too well on screen. The scenes from Don Carlos show that current technology can produce high quality video in less than optimal conditions which bodes well for future recordings.
If you appreciate opera then Great Tenor Performances would be a welcome addition to your DVD collection. The arias included are a good combination of "old favourites" and lesser known tunes and the tenors singing them are the world's best. The video and the audio quality aren't exactly state of the art but they are good enough to be enjoyed and the performances presented are top notch.