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Album Review

In four consecutive World Cup tournaments from 1990 to 2002, the Three Tenors sang to packed stadiums of fans and helped revive interest in live opera, particularly in America. By 2006, though, with José Carreras assuming a lower profile and Luciano Pavarotti battling cancer, the still-sturdy, hard-working Plácido Domingo was the only tenor of the three available for the World Cup in Berlin. That was the raison d'être for this compilation of operatic hits and popular songs from the tenor's huge discography, the only new selection of which is a song written for the World Cup finals by his son, Plácido Domingo, Jr. It's called "Willkommen bei Uns" (Welcome) — and cynics might say that this hymn-like multilingual "popera"-style tune with over-the-top orchestral/choral backing is more of a tribute to the power of nepotism than universal brotherhood. Nevertheless, Plácido Sr. gives it all he's got — and at 65, his voice still has plenty of power left. There are two versions, the longer take of which is less overblown, better paced, and more intelligible. With nothing else in the cupboard, Sony BMG takes listeners through a cross section of recordings that literally span Domingo's long career, many of which were excerpted from complete opera sets. The selections are usually predictable — the two hit arias from Tosca; the two big ones from Rigoletto; Celeste Aida; Libiamo; Vesti la Giubba; the inevitable Nessun Dorma!; two popular Domingo specialties, "Granada" and "Andalucia"; and his curiously mismatched hit with John Denver, "Perhaps Love." Yet there is the occasional surprise choice like Domingo's magnificently sustained take on Svegliatevi Nel Core from Handel's Julius Caesar. As useful as this compact overview of Domingo's consistency over the decades is, it shouldn't have been offered at full price. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

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