The Three Tenors
The Three Tenors is a name given to the Spanish singers Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and the Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti who sang in concert under this banner during the 1990s and early 2000s. The trio began their collaboration with a performance at the ancient Baths of Caracalla, in Rome, Italy, on July 7, 1990 – the eve of the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final. Zubin Mehta conducted the orchestra of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the orchestra of Teatro dell’Opera di Roma.
Italian producer Mario Dradi first conceived the idea of the concert. The first concert was held to raise money for Carreras’s foundation; it was also for friends Domingo and Pavarotti a way to welcome their friend into the world of opera after his successful treatment of leukemia.
The three subsequently sang together in concerts produced by Hungarian Tibor Rudas and other producers, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for the final match of World Cup FIFA 1994, at the Champ de Mars under the Eiffel Tower during the World Cup FIFA 1998 and in Yokohama for the World Cup 2002 FIFA. Also played in other cities around the world, usually performing in stadiums or other large spaces. In Chile, a similar presentation was made, under the name Chilean 3 Tenors sing to Santiago, inspired by the performances by Domingo, Pavarotti and Carreras at the end of the FIFA World Cup Italy 1990, USA 1994, France 1998 and Korea Japan 2002.
The concerts were a huge 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 album’s best-selling classical music), The 3 Tenors In Concert 1994, The Three Tenors: Paris 1998, The Three Tenors Christmas, 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 ranged from opera to Broadway to Neapolitan songs and pop hits. The group’s signature songs included “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s opera Turandot (always sung by Pavarotti) and the ballad “O Sole Mio” (which all three tenors typically sang together).
The Three Tenors phenomenon was applauded by many for introducing opera to a wider audience, but some opera purists rebuked them, saying opera was not music for millions (of people). Some critics believe that the presentation of opera in stadiums such as Wembley, with heavy amps, contributes little to the understanding and appreciation of opera as a Gesamtkunstwerk (complete art work) as Wagner conceived it. “I understand the complaints of the purists,” Domingo told an interviewer in 1998. “But I do not want the purists to go to the Three Tenors.”