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Excellent, as you'd expect from opera's finest tenors
on 8 September 2009
Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti teamed up to create this masterpiece. At least, that's how I describe this Christmas album, which clearly appeals to far more people than just the hardcore opera fans. Whether those fans enjoy this music, I cannot say. I'm one of those people who likes to dabble in opera occasionally but mainly listens to other types of music.
With the three singers all being tenors, you may not always be able to tell who is singing what unless you listen closely, or unless you are already familiar with their vocal differences. Perhaps that was their deliberate strategy. After all, it would have been possible to team up three opera singers with markedly different voices to create a contrast. Such an album might also be excellent, but it would be very different to this one. So I won't dwell too much on who sings what, except to say that each singer has one solo track. If you want to figure out the differences between them, you can begin by comparing those tracks. The other tracks include three duets with each singer sitting out one of them, with the remainder featuring all three singers. Thus, all three contribute equally to the album's vocals.
In its original form, the album had 21 tracks, but my version (described as a special edition although it now seems to be the only version available in Britain) has 23 tracks, the bonus tracks being Let it snow and Jingle bells. These two fun songs aren't really typical of the album, which tend to focus on more serious material. On the main album, only Sleigh ride and Winter wonderland are in a similar vein to the bonus tracks. The remaining tracks feature the wistful White Christmas and I'll be home for Christmas, but also feature plenty of religious songs.
Among the religious songs, O holy night, O come all ye faithful, Amazing grace, Silent night and Little drummer boy have all been recorded many hundreds of times, but these versions sound very distinctive, especially to those who don't listen to much opera. Perhaps the biggest surprise is among the selections is the inclusion of John Lennon's Happy Xmas war is over, which is easily the most modern song here, and which is rapidly on the way to becoming a Christmas standard.
As somebody who like to listen to a little bit of opera occasionally, this album certainly has its appeal. I hope that dedicated opera fans like it too.