"THE ORIGINAL THREE TENORS CONCERT"
"Kiri - A Celebration"
MOZART: The Magic Flute (for children)
If you have the original release of the first "Three Tenors Concert" recorded July 7, 1990 in Rome's Baths of Caracalla, you might wish to think twice before acquiring this "Deluxe Special Edition." This contains the entire concert plus a 53-minute film The Impossible Dream (issued for the first time on DVD), narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, documenting how this concert came to be, and featuring interviews with the three tenors. Also there is a Photo Gallery, and, for those so inclined, a karaoke version of the Neapolitan song "O sole mio." One might think after all this time, and all of the sales for the original issue, this reissue would be offered at a special price; it isn't - list is almost $40.
The Kiri Te Kanawa concert documents a celebration of the 50th Birthday Party for the New Zealand-born soprano. The event was held in Royal Albert Hall March 10, 1994 and there were a number of friends of the soprano participating including tenor Dennis O'Neill, the Waihirere Maori Group, Gisborne, and André Previn and his trio. The program features some of the music closely associated with Te Kanawa, and for the most part she is in fine vocal state after a rather off-pitch "Depuis le jour," and it is a pleasant surprise that the program includes an oddity: the aria from Bernard Hermann's score for the opera Salammbó seen in Citizen Kane, which the soprano recorded in 1974 for RCA with the late Charles Gerhardt conducting, as part of the label's Classic Film Score series. The wide-ranging program includes a group of American pop songs, and ends with arrival of a huge birthday cake. "Extras" are Baïlèro from Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne, an excerpt from Verdi's Simon Boccanegra from a 1991 performance at the Royal Opera House, and a music video You are Cute. Video and sound quality are fine, although hardly genuine 5.1 surround as advertised. This is a highly enjoyable DVD.
In 1978 the Salzburg Festival presented a new production of The Magic Flute in a new version designed and directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. It was widely acclaimed, RCA made a recording of it that is still in the catalog, and the production remained a Festival favorite for nine seasons. TDK's DVD of Mozart's The Magic Flute was recorded before an audience of children in the Felsenreitschule, Salzburg, August 26, 1982. The idea of a special performance for children came from Christian Boesch (who sang Papageno in the productions and wrote the clever script) working with Ponnelle who entered the project enthusiastically. This abridged version, slightly more than an hour, is a constant delight. Directed by Brian Large, we have the quality video we have come to expect from him, and the performance itself is outstanding, particularly Zdzislawa Donat's electrifying Queen of the Night. There is an atmosphere of informality and fun throughout and everyone who loves Mozart's masterpiece will doubtless learn something new from this presentation.
R.E.B. (September 2007)