The Original Three Tenors Concert

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1990 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 86:21 Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Brian Large
Universal Home Video
Starring Jose Carreras
Placido Domingo
Luciano Pavarotti
Zubin Mehta
Case Super Jewel
RRP $34.95 Music Zubin Mehta

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG 5.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.0
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Linear PCM 2.0, 1536Kb/s)
English (MPEG 5.0, 384Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.0, 384Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    IN SHORT: It's all about the music.

    It's storytime!

    Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived three great tenors; Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti. And Zubin Mehta looked upon them, and saw that all was good. On the first day, Zubin caused these three great tenors to gather together in the fabled Roman ruins of the Baths of Caracalla in 1990. And Zubin caused these three great tenors to issue forth with song from the heavens. And Zubin saw that it was good. And 6,000 people at the Baths of Caracalla saw that it was good. And 800 million people watching on TV saw that it was good. And the three tenors saw that it was good, and saw that it was very, very profitable. On the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh day, the Three Tenors got greedy, and it was not good.

    The Three Tenors have come in for a lot of bashing lately. We have reviewed two other DVDs of their performances; Paris 1998 and Los Angeles 1994, and a consistent theme runs through these reviews; The Original Three Tenors Concert was something very special, but they have crassly commercialized and cheapened the concept with their ongoing and increasingly mass-market activities.

    Lest we forget, The Original Three Tenors Concert was something very, very special. It was a magnificent night of peerless operatic singing from three great tenors in their prime, accompanied by two great orchestras, in a sublime setting. Even their trademark butchery of contemporary music via medley seemed forgivable. Nessun dorma was not yet hackneyed. All was well and good with the world for one night.

Transfer Quality


    I have previously seen this programme on NTSC laserdisc, and heard it on CD, so it was with a little trepidation that I began to view this 1990 vintage sourced-from-video transfer. Well, was I in for a surprise - this is a great transfer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness and clarity of the image is remarkable given the 10 year old nature of the footage. Having said that, it is clearly at a level below the best contemporary video transfers, but not far below. Other than in long shots, the clarity of the image is amazing. It was certainly much clearer and sharper than the laserdisc. Whoever was responsible for the technical side of this transfer 10 years ago should be congratulated on allowing this material to be archived in such pristine condition. Shadow detail is as good as we can expect for a staged production, helped in no small part by the more-or-less invariant stage lighting. Low level noise was not present in the image, much to my surprise, as the laserdisc version suffered from this considerably.

    Colours are nicely rendered, with accurately displayed flesh tones. There was the slightest hint of chroma noise in the bluish backgrounds behind some of the close-ups of the three tenors, but you really had to be looking for it to see it. This seemed to diminish in intensity as the transfer progressed. Of particular note is the complete absence of composite video artefacts as compared with the laserdisc. No dot crawl nor cross-colouration at all was seen in this transfer.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen, due in part to the fairly basic camerawork on display - there is little in the way of zooms or pans during this presentation. There were no video artefacts seen, either, other than the occasional camera wobble.

    A slight authoring oddity is the fact that the DVD comes to a complete stop at the end of the credits rather than returning to the main menu as the great majority of other DVDs do.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; English Linear PCM 2.0, English MPEG 5.0 and English Dolby Digital 5.0. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.0 mix and briefly sampled the Linear PCM mix.

    The overall level of the Dolby Digital 5.0 mix was a little high, and I ended up listening to the soundtrack at 5dB below my normal reference listening level.

    Vocals were strongly mixed into the centre channel and were generally easy to hear and make out, except during the very strongest orchestral passages when they were threatened with being drowned out. There were no audio sync problems.

    The front surround channels were used for the orchestra, and a delayed and softened ambient version of this was placed in the rear surround channels. The overall effect of this mix is more of a 5-channel stereo presentation than anything else, although vocal clarity is slightly enhanced in the 5.0 mix as compared with the Linear PCM mix due to the strong placement of vocals within the center channel.

    The .1 channel was not specifically encoded.




    This contains the libretto in multiple languages along with some brief notes on the production.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;     Assuming that the Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack of our version is the equivalent of the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on the Region 1 version (which is a reasonable assumption to make), the presence of the Linear PCM soundtrack on the Region 4 version of this DVD, as well as the inherent advantages of PAL formatting, is enough to sway me in this specific case to recommend the Region 4 version over the Region 1 version.


    The Original Three Tenors Concert is a magnificent concert, captured on a superb DVD.

    The video quality is remarkably good.

    The audio quality is good.

    There are essentially no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
6th April 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer