Great Tenor Performances

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 74:16 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Movie
Region 2,3,4,5,6 Director -
Warner Vision Australia
Starring Jose Carreras
Roberto Alagna
Placido Domingo
Giacomo Aragall
John Mark Ainsley
Vladimir Atlantov
Max-Rene Cosotti
Luciano Pavarotti
Neil Shicoff
Jon Vickers
Franco Bonisolli
Nicola Martinucci
Case Super Jewel Case
RRP $39.95 Music Some hacks like Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and Rossini

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital None
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Linear PCM 48/16, 1536 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    I suppose this is the sort of compilation that starts those arguments that we all seem to love. You know, is this great tenors performing arias or is it tenors performing great tenor arias, and whatever else who is the best. And I will certainly start the argument by saying that frankly this is not great tenor performances. Mainly because these are tenors of the last twenty years and most of the great tenors ceased to exist prior to this time period! The only consolation is that those particular tenors are caught before the travesty (my opinion, which probably is contrary to everyone else's) that is The Three Tenors, and these are actually genuine operatic performances as opposed to some overrated, and possibly over-the-hill tenors singing for the money, not the art.

    And this sort of compilation contains a wide cross section of both quality in performance and quality in music. The range here is from pretty ordinary to something quite superb. And the quite superb comes from a name that I am not familiar with - Giacomo Aragall doing a superb rendition of E lucevan le stelle from Puccini's Tosca. And I have to admit that even Luciano Pavarotti is quite reasonable, although this does come from the period before his decline towards The Three Tenors. Of those three tenors, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo demonstrate how much better they are than Luciano Pavarotti, even in these efforts well predating the three tenor "phenomenon". And we do get the obligatory Nessun Dorma albeit in a decent effort rather than the increasingly bastardized version that Luciano Pavarotti has probably made a squillion from.

Transfer Quality


    All things considered, this is a decent transfer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, apart from two arias which are in 1.78:1 widescreen. The transfer is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Naturally with a collection of video transfers ranging from 1981 to 1996, there is significant variability in the quality of the transfers on offer. They range from very average to pretty good. In general the transfers are lacking just a little in definition and sharpness. There are no real problems with the focus throughout, and in general shadow detail is not too special. Most of the transfers seem to be just a little on the dark side, some rather more than others. In one transfer in particular, that of Max-Rene Cosotti, there was evidence of serious low level noise, or MPEG artefacting; this transfer also demonstrated a quite noticeable jump in the video (probably an inherent fault not a DVD mastering fault).

    The transfers show significant variability in the colours, ranging from nicely saturated to quite washed out. Most of the earlier transfers exhibit a lack of really decent colour, indicating perhaps a problem with the original transfers as opposed to problems with the DVD transfer. This is definitely not what you would call a vibrant collection of transfers.

    Apart from some blockiness in a few of the transfers, which may be inherent problems in the transfers, there did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. One transfer, the sole transfer of Vladimir Atlantov, had some problem with wobble, but apart from that there did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts. There were some noticeable film artefacts present in a few of the transfers, but these were not too distracting.

    Overall, the video transfer is quite good even allowing for the odd individual problems here and there with certain transfers.


    And matching the slightly variable video transfer is a slightly variable soundtrack.

    There is only the one audio track on the DVD, an English Linear PCM 48/16 soundtrack. Although it is nominally English, all the performances are in the original language, meaning anything but English just about!

    The music and vocals are generally clear and understandable in the soundtrack, although there were some variable moments here and there.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with the soundtrack.

    The soundtrack does not make much use of the rear surround channels nor the bass channel, and this is a very front and centre sounding effort. The main problem was the sound varies between transfers and also within transfers, especially as the performers move around. At times the sound was a little too recessed for my liking, and it never really sparkled at all. The sole transfer of Vladimir Atlantov sounded as if it had some background hiss to it, but nothing too distracting. Overall, not the greatest soundscape I have heard, but given the variability in the transfers, nothing too much to really complain about.


    Nothing on offer in this regard really.


    Features some nice music and animation enhancement of a very low-key nature.


    Provides some basic detail of the the origin of the videos, and some short biographical details of the performers.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 and Region 4 releases appear to be identical, therefore Region 4 would have to be the marginally better choice, owing to the inherently superior PAL system.


    Unfortunately this is not the sort of compilation that I like, as it takes too much of the music out of the context in which it was created. Nonetheless, for those that need compilations of some tenor performances, this is acceptable enough. I would however prefer to hangout for some archival transfers of really great tenors like Jussi Bjorling, Tito Schippa and Feruccio Tagliavinni, but I guess that I will be waiting awhile.

    A reasonable video transfer.

    A reasonable audio transfer.

    The extras need some work.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
11th December 1999

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