The Three Tenors

The Three Tenors

"The Three Tenors" is a name given to a consort of singers who held concerts under this banner during the 1990s and early 2000s: Spaniards Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and Italian Luciano Pavarotti. The trio began their collaboration with a concert at the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome held on the eve of the 1990 FIFA World Cup final in Italy, on July 7, 1990, with Zubin Mehta conducting the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Orchestra del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma.


The idea of the concert was originally conceived by the Italian manager/producer Mario Dradi, to raise money for Carreras's foundation and also 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.

The three subsequently sang together, in concerts produced by Hungarian Tibor Rudas and others, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for the 1994 World Cup finals, at the Champ de Mars, below the Eiffel Tower in Paris during France '98 and in Yokohama during the 2002 tournament. They also played in other cities around the world, usually performing in stadiums or other large outdoor venues. Sometimes such concerts were held to mark specific events, such as the reopening of the thermal baths in the city of Bath after an interruption of some thirty years.

The concerts were a great commercial success, and were accompanied by a series of best-selling recordings including "Carreras - Domingo - Pavarotti: the Three Tenors in Concert" (which holds the Guinness World Record for the best selling classical album), "The Three Tenors In Concert 1994", "The Three Tenors: Paris 1998", "The Three Tenors Christmas" and "The Best of the Three Tenors". Zubin Mehta conducted the performances in 1990 and 1994. The Paris concert was conducted by James Levine.

The Three Tenors' repertoire extended beyond opera to Broadway numbers and even pop hits. Their signature songs included "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" and the Italian ballad standard "O Sole Mio".

Purists view

The Three Tenors phenomenon was applauded by some for introducing opera to a wider public, but some opera purists scorned it due to the large amount of money they collected from concert tours and album recording (in excess of USD 1 million each) [ [ The Three Tenors were paid $1.5 million each for every concert] ] [ [ The Three Tenors World Tour] ] that the three singers and conductor Zubin Mehta received [ [ $500,000 per concert for the tenors and Mehta] ] . Some critics believe that performing opera arias in sports stadiums such as Wembley, with heavy amplification, contributes little to the understanding and appreciation of opera as a "Gesamtkunstwerk" ("whole art work") as Wagner conceived it. "I understand the complaints of purists," Domingo told an interviewer in 1998. "But I don't want the purists to go to the Three Tenors" [ [ Domingo's comment of the purists about The Three Tenpors] ] .

Legal issue

The success of the Three Tenors also led to antitrust action by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission against Warner Bros. and Vivendi Universal. It found that they had conspired not to advertise or discount the albums of the Rome concert (released by PolyGram, later taken over by Vivendi) and of the Los Angeles concert (released by Warner Bros.) in order to protect sales of the jointly released album of the Paris concert.

Performance without Pavarotti

A Three Tenors concert was scheduled as the inaugural event for the Universal Forum of Cultures, to take place in Monterrey, Mexico. Pavarotti was unable to attend because of an illness, and so the concert took place without him on June 4, 2005.

One of the more unusual variations occurred when Carreras and Domingo themselves appeared in concert in Vienna with American singer Diana Ross in 1992, the live recording of which was released as Christmas in Vienna.


The success of the Three Tenors formula led to various imitations, such as the Irish Tenors, Tenor Australis, the Three Canadian Tenors, the Ten Tenors, Three Tenors and a Soprano, the Three Sopranos, The Sopranos, Three Mo' Tenors, Three Countertenors, the Three Chinese Tenors, and Yiddish and Canadian Anglican trios of religious singers both called the Three Cantors. In 2000, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton and Danny Aiello starred in the motion picture comedy "OFF-KEY", loosely inspired by the Three Tenors. Stephin Merritt, Dudley Klute and LD Beghtol have acted occasionally under the name The Three Terrors.


External links

* [ The Three Tenors Paris 1998]
* [ "A Requiem for Classical Music?"] from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's Regional Review - discusses the influence of the Three Tenors' success on the classical music market
* [ FTC press release] on the "Tenors" antitrust action
* [ The Friends of José Carreras International Leukemia Foundation]

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