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 Recording of the Week  The Three Tenors

As an English football fan myself, when someone mentions the 1990 World Cup I immediately think of Paul Gascoigne’s tears after his yellow card in the semi-final. However, from a classical music perspective a far more notable feature of the tournament was the forming of ‘The Three Tenors’, made up of the Spanish singers Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and the Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti. The concert (which took place on the eve of the final) was designed to raise money for Carreras's charitable foundation as well as a way for his contemporaries, Domingo and Pavarotti, to welcome their friend and colleague back to the world of opera after his successful treatment for leukemia. As it turned out the concert (and subsequent recordings) turned the Three Tenors into household names throughout the world, and arguably changed the whole perception of opera amongst the mass population.

The Three Tenors
The Three Tenors

I say ‘arguably’ because this is very much a debated issue, and while a lot of people applaud the phenomenon that introduced opera to a wider public, there are also many purists who feel that the singers rather betrayed their heritage, and that their performances together contributed very little to the understanding and appreciation of opera as a Gesamtkunstwerk (whole art work) as for example Wagner had conceived it, while earning them very large amounts of money in the process.

However, whatever your view, you cannot escape from the fact that they came together in 1990 because they were quite clearly the three greatest tenors of their time, and this reputation was born as much as anything from the tremendous discographies that each one had produced. And even now if you are looking for a recommended recording of an opera, if you see one of their names amongst the cast list it is very likely to be a winner.

To celebrate these three truly great singers we’ve just started a ‘Three Tenors’ Special Offer where you can read a bit more about each of them, and browse and buy many of their greatest recordings on both CD and DVD (plus a couple of recent Domingo Blu-rays). Listening to these recordings today, and without any disrespect to the likes of Villazon and Kaufmann, this really was a golden age.

Browse Three Tenors Special Offer: