The 3 Tenors-Christmas (2000)

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Released 1-Dec-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Trailer-2
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 81:26
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Sony Classical
Sony Music
Starring Jose Carreras
Placido Domingo
Luciano Pavarotti
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $24.95 Music Various

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The first 3 Tenors concert, performed in Rome in 1990 as an adjunct to the World Soccer Cup series was an artistic coup. Nothing like it had ever really been seen, and the concert achieved its aim of presenting 3 great tenors singing some wonderful music. Unfortunately, the remarkable success of the concert, reflected in millions of CD and video sales around the world, led inexorably to the 3 (ageing) tenors trying to repeat that success (monetarily, not artistically) innumerable times thereafter. I suppose we have the Americans to partly blame for this, since they began the idea of trying to repeat what was only ever a one-off triumph. In any case, Los Angeles had their go in 1994, Paris in 1998, Melbourne soon after that, and who knows how many other places have been graced with the whole circus. The performance quality has continued to plummet until, most recently, we have The Three Tenors Christmas! Yes, Jose Carreras (for all those Seinfeld fans out there, "the other one"), Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti belt out a string of Christmas favourites to the rapturous applause of an audience at the Vienna Concert Hall. Presumably, the audience's rapture is not as a result of the performance but rather because their tickets cost an absolute bomb and they've told all their friends they were going, and they simply can't afford to look disappointed.

    One sad trait of many fine performers is that they don't know when to retire, and they stain their great reputation with mediocre performances late in life. Pavarotti is well past his retirement date - at his prime I considered his voice to be a thing of almost godly perfection, but he has now lost the absolute control that set him apart. Carreras, too, has reached the point where he no longer sounds natural and relaxed and his face, always very expressive, seems to get contorted into parodies of himself as he strains to get the sound out. Domingo is the only one of the trio with a voice strong enough to justify a continuing career.

    One further point to note is the attitudes of the singers. This is supposed to be a Christmas performance, so you would expect joviality and relaxed fun on the part of all concerned. Domingo does his bit, to be fair. Carreras only smiles twice; most of the time he either has a look of total surprise on his face, or he seems to be suffering as a result of major exertion. Pavarotti is too busy reading his teleprompter (one of those US Presidential transparent gadgets) to really acknowledge much at all.

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Transfer Quality


    In three words, the video quality is less than ordinary. Coming from an original video source, probably NTSC, means that all aspects are poor. It is, of course, formatted full frame.

    Normally in these reviews we comment on picture sharpness. In this case I'll skip that and discuss, instead, the picture fuzziness. The poor video source results in just about every problem you could imagine - edges are ill-defined, brightly-lit objects exude a glowing halo around them in the form of permanent screen bloom that also destroys all foreground detail and less well-lit areas such as the audience show up as a general indistinguishable mass. As an indication of the extent of this problem, the white vests and ties of the 3 Ts generally dissolve into a single, washed-out, white area.

    Colours are limited, but what there is is poorly defined and a long way from looking realistic. Skin tones are crude and suffer from the washed-out look. Colour bleed is a continual problem.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two choices for the audio, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix or a PCM stereo track. Both sound extremely good, with the 5.1 mix providing a more impressive "being-there" experience thanks to the surround effects.

    The voices of the three singers dominate the soundscape (naturally enough), and can be heard with crystal-clear clarity. Given my comments earlier, this may not be such a flattering thing! At times I felt that the orchestra was a little subdued in the recording. Otherwise, it displays a reasonably full frequency range, with nice bass being provided by the bigger stringed instruments. There are no obvious technical faults in the recording. Incidentally, while the disc is labelled as being a 5.1 recording, I don't think the .1 channel ever gets any use. Bass is handled adequately well by the other five channels.

    Audio sync was generally without a fault, although in one piece halfway through the concert (Adeste Fideles) I got a strange feeling that something wasn't quite right. Whether the sync got just a little way out or, more significantly, the piece was dubbed after the event, I can't say, but that was the only problem in this regard.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Trailers - Charlotte Church Dream a Dream & The Three Tenors Christmas

        This little pair of ads is played immediately before the concert. They have no artistic merit of any kind. In any case, why advertise the disc that the viewer has already bought and is in fact watching at the very moment??? At least you can step through both of these, that is if you're in a hurry to see the 3 Ts doing their thing.

Scene Selection Animation & Audio



        In my opinion, this serves to confirm that these guys have had a good innings and should retire gracefully.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I can identify no difference between the disc available here in Australia to that available overseas.


    All in all, The Three Tenors Christmas is a useless affair for anyone who enjoys fine music and fine performances. It is a blatant money-making exercise - the sheer number of songs that are sung in English, in spite of their non-English roots and the Viennese location, points to the US as being the target market. The performances are bashed out with little or no feeling. Now that the original Three Tenors concert is available on DVD there is no reason to waste your money on this offering.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Murray Glase (read my bio)
Saturday, March 03, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D906S
SpeakersRichter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)

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