Pavarotti Tribute

Pavarotti died September 6, 2007. The Pavarotti Tribute is our name for The Tribute to Pavarotti concert presented in 2008 in Petra, Jordan by Nicoletta Mantovani Pavarotti and Princess Haya Bint al Hussein of Jordan. (We changed the name of the title slightly to make it easy to find on the Alphlist.) Stars José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Cynthia Lawrence, Andrea Griminelli, Jonanotti, Sting, Zucchero, Angela Gheorghiu, Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini, and Alem Kandour (juvenile artist). Eugene Kohn conducts the Prague Philharmonia. This title also has a long documentary with memorial comments about the decedent by family members, friends, and colleagues. Released 2009, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C

This title is proof of how hard it is to bring together a symphony orchestra, a dozen stars, and an outdoor venue and put on a show that will sound and look good when recorded. Even with all the resources of the Pavarotti family, the Queen of Jordan, and Pavarotti's many celebrity friends, the result here was an embarrassing flop. The stage was ugly, the lighting was erratic, the Prague Philharmonic seemed travel-weary, the sound recording of the orchestra was atrociously bad, and the video recording was soft and frequently out-of-focus. Even worse, everybody seemed to be seriously under-rehearsed. There was no Master of Ceremonies, which led to confusions between numbers.  Here are the musical selections and my grade for each of them:

1. Prague Philharmonia:  "Overture" to Il barbiere di Siviglia. In addition to the problems mentioned earlier, the stage was too high for the video cameras to get good shots of the orchestra. You can hardly hear many sections of the orchestra, but the bass drum must have had a special mike just for it. Grade: "D"

2. José Carreras: "Chitarra Romana". Carreras sounds pretty good, but unflattering light makes him look ill. Alas, there are no subtitles for the music, but only for spoken comments in Italian. Grade: "B"

3. Plácido Domingo: "Amor, Vida de mi Vida". Domingo also sounds good, but the light makes him look like a singing corpse. Grade: "B"

4. José Carreras and Plácido Domingo: "Non Ti Scordar di Me!" Here these gents start singing too loud, and I have to turn down the volume. Grade: "B"

5. Sherrill Milnes: "Shall We Gather at the River?" I think Milnes is retired now, but it was touching to hear him sing to honor his friend. Grade: "C+"

6. Sherrill Milnes: "Surely the Presence of the Lord" Grade: "C+"

7. Cynthia Lawrence: "Vissi d'arte" from Tosca. I think this lady has seen better days. Grade: "C"

8. Andrea Griminelli (flute): "Gabriel's Oboe" Both of Griminelli's flute pieces were marred by poor sound recording. Grade: "C+"

9. Andrea Griminelli (flute): "Czardas"

10. Jovanotti: "Guarda che Luna" Total disaster. Image a Charles Ives piece with a symphony orchestra, a jazz band, and a pop singer all working simultaneously,  but each with no regard for what the others were doing. I can't believe they didn't edit this out. Grade: "F"

11. Sting with Edin Karamazov on lute: "Have You Soon the Bright Lily Grow?" Another total disaster due to an incomprehensibly bad performance by Sting of what I think was supposed to be a folk song. Grade: "F"

12. Zucchero: "Va, pensiero" from Nabucco. This strange dude is very popular in Europe, but I think he was having a bad night. Grade: "D."

13. Angela Gheorghiu: "Granada". Gheorghiu was having a bad night also, but she still gets a "B" grade.

14. Andrea Bocelli: "Mattinata". This was the 1st number I liked on this ill-fated program. Grade "A"

15. Zucchero and Pavarotti "Miserere". I think this was a cross-over hit some years ago and we see the video. Grade: "B+"

16. Laura Pausini: "Il Mondo che Vorrei". Pausini looked great, but sounded terrible all night. Grade: "C-"

17. Sting and Angela Gheorghiu: "Là ci darem la mano" from Don Giovanni.The absolute low point of the evening with Sting trying to sing opera. Years from now Gheorghiu will regale her friends calling this the worst experience of her professional life. Grade "F-" even with Gheorghiu gamely singing her part.

18. Andrea Bocelli: !"E lucevan le stelle!" from Tosca. Here you see the difference between a singer of songs and an opera singer. To sing this aria well, you must also act out the emotions of a man preparing to die, and this is something that Bocelli can't do. Grade: "C"

19. Zucchero: "Nel così blu". Grade: "C"

20. Jovanotti: "A te". This guy is charming while working that gray area between speaking and singing. But if you don't speak Italian really well, forget it. Grade "D" for us barbarians. (Remember, Decca was too cheap to give us subtitles for the lyrics.)

21. Cynthia Lawrence: "My Man's Gone Now". Oh, dear. "C-"

22. Andrea Griminelli (flute) and Aleem Kandour (violin): "Vivace". A 13-year-old violin player (from Jordon) gets the 2nd best grade of "B+".

23. Laura Pausini and Andrea Bocelli: "Vivere". You have heard this at least 100 times by these two, and all of the earlier performances were better than this one. "D"

24. Laura Pausini and Jovanotti: "Caruso". But now suddenly Pausini and Jovanotti get a chance to redeem themselves. The orchestra takes a rest. We have the duet with 3 jazz sidemen, and suddenly things click. Grade "B"

25. Quartet: "Dunque è proprio finta!" from La Bohème. Odd to end a concert with a famous fight scene. Grade: "B"

26. Pavarotti (from DVD on big screen): "Nessun dorma" from Turandot

In summary, I can't develop much enthusiasm for this program and this disc. But if something about it would be of special interest to you, please don't let my reservations about this deter you from giving it a try. Maybe a part of what you pay will eventually help Pavarotti charities. I give this overall the grade of "C."