Divas Live

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) No
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 80:19 minutes Other Extras Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Michael A Simon
Sony Music Video
Sony Music
Starring Celine Dion
Gloria Estefan
Aretha Franklin
Shania Twain
Mariah Carey

Carole King

Case Brackley
RPI $34.95 Music Various

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536 Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio Full Frame
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, in credits

Plot Synopsis

    Now this is a rather glittering and diverse array of musical talent, gathered together at The Beacon Theatre in New York for a fund-raising concert in aid of VH-1 Music First's Save The Music Foundation. This is a foundation with the noble aim of raising funds to restore music education at public schools in the United States, and if the talent on display on the stage is not enough for you, there is plenty in the audience too.

    The selection of songs on offer is not huge but what is there is very decent, and in order is:

    Mariah Carey

    Gloria Estefan     Shania Twain     Aretha Franklin (with Mariah Carey)     Celine Dion     Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Shania Twain and Carole King     The Divas     On occasions these sorts of events can descend into something that you really find unbearable, but this one is a little special. The reason it is so special is heard in the first few notes that are sung by the incomparable Aretha Franklin. Icon is perhaps something of a misused term at times, but in this instance it is well applied. The Queen of Soul is not only an icon, but along with a very select group of female singers - Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday being the obvious ones - she represents the epitome of singing in the last one hundred years. Long after we have forgotten who Mariah Carey or Shania Twain or even Celine Dion are, we will still know who Aretha Franklin is and was and will always be. Those first few notes are all you need to know that she has a very special voice and a very special way with music, and unfortunately even her one brief song is enough to completely overpower the rest of the performers here, despite one or two of them being genuine legends in their own right.

    Celine Dion is very well known now throughout the world, and possibly for no better reason than being responsible for just about the only decent thing to come out of that film - My Heart Will Go On. However, it is what she does with an icon of a song like River Deep, Mountain High that truly demonstrates her class. She offers up a superb rendering of a song in a style that is very much her own.

    We also have the unique sound of Gloria Estefan, whose music has unified a number of styles of Northern and Central American music into a single, infectious sound that will almost be remembered solely as her preserve. Anyone who has spent time in the Miami region will know that sound well - it is an all-pervasive sound that virtually assaults you wherever you might be in Miami, as I long remember from my visits there.

    Shania Twain is a singer who over the past three years has sprung from virtually nowhere, thanks mainly to one album - Come On Over. In the process, she has almost completely incurred the wrath of country music in the United States. The album was originally released as an almost new country music album, but was subsequently remixed into something that is not quite new country and not quite rock, but has certainly sold in numbers sufficient to exceed the gross domestic product of small African nations. It does not hurt, of course, that she is a gorgeous woman, whose husband ranks as one of the luckiest men on earth, and has parleyed her musical success and looks into a serious-sized cosmetics promotion deal.

    In this company, Mariah Carey is definitely overshadowed - which is really saying something.

    This is actually one of the better fund-raising events that I have seen in any form, and it is an enjoyable concert - even allowing for the promotional spots included in the video. If for no other reason, it is well worth acquiring to simply hear the Queen of Soul strut her stuff (with Mariah Carey gamely hanging in there, too).

Transfer Quality


    The quality of the vocal talent is matched by the quality of the video transfer. This is a seriously good-looking concert video, despite the usual problems such events cause - you know the ones; extreme lighting, lapses in focus and so on.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format and is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is gorgeously detailed and is as sharp and clear as you could ever reasonably expect from a concert video. Indeed, this makes many a feature film pale into comparison. There is no hint of grain in the transfer to hide that nice shadow detail - just check out the definition in the audience shots to see how good concert videos can get. There were no low level noise problems in the transfer.

    Matching the detail and sharpness of the transfer is a lovely rich, vibrant range of colours. The only times that the transfer drops in this regard is under a couple of instances of very extreme stage lighting, but even these do not descend into any sort of flare or oversaturation problems.

    MPEG artefact problems? Forget it - no such thing here. Film-to-video artefact problems? Ditto - not even the usual shimmering culprits like instruments or microphones. Film artefact problems? None. End of story.


    For a nice change in a Sony Music release, this actually has a very nice audio transfer in most respects.

    There are two audio tracks on the DVD, an English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack predominantly, as well as extensively sampling the Linear PCM soundtrack. As is usual from this source, the reference to Dolby Stereo on the packaging is incorrect - it is Linear PCM stereo.

    The dialogue and vocals were stunningly clear and easy to understand throughout the transfer.

    There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The only problem I have with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is that every so often the bass channel becomes just a little too prominent in the mix. This is only an intermittent problem and really is better here than in many a Sony effort. Apart from that, this is a very natural sounding effort, with a nice clarity to the overall soundscape and lots of separation in the sound. There is no hint of murkiness here at all, and the bass and surround channels are very nicely used in general. Other than the intermittent bass problem, there is nothing to worry about here. Even the Linear PCM soundtrack rocks along very nicely.


    Not much of a package here, and this is a little surprising as I would have thought that being a fund-raising effort, there could have been more about what the VH-1 Music First's Save The Music Foundation is trying to do, even if it is American-oriented.


Production Notes

    Some nice if brief background notes to the purpose of the concert and how the concert was put together.

R4 vs R1

    As far as can be ascertained this is identical in content to the Region 1 version and therefore this Region 4 PAL version would be the version of choice.


    Divas Live is a fine DVD in most respects, and worthy of addition to your collection especially if you are a fan of any of the performers.

    A superb video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer but with minor problems.

    A disappointing extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
23rd July 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL