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The Three Tenors is a name given to the Spanish singers Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and the late 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 7 July 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 conceived the idea of the first concert in 1990 in Rome. It was held to raise money for Carreras's foundation, the José Carreras International Leukemia Foundation. It was also for his friends Domingo and Pavarotti a way to welcome Carreras back into the world of opera after his successful treatment for leukemia.
The three subsequently sang together in concerts produced by Hungarian Tibor Rudas and other producers, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to coincide the final match of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, at the Champ de Mars under the Eiffel Tower during the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and in Yokohama for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. They also toured other cities around the world, usually performing in stadiums or similar large arenas.
Following the big success of the 1990 and 1994 concerts, The Three Tenors opened a world tour of concerts during 1996-1997 period. In 1996 they performed at Kasumigaoka Stadium in Tokyo, at Wembley Stadium in London, at Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna, at Giants Stadium outside of New York, at Ullevi Stadium in Goteborg, at Olympic Stadium in Munich, at Rheinstadion in Düsseldorf and at BC Place in Vancouver on New Year's Eve. In 1997 concerts followed at Cricket Ground in Melbourne, at Skydome in Toronto, at Pro Player Stadium in Miami and at Camp Nou in Barcelona. The tour was scheduled to end in Houston with a final concert which was eventually canceled due to very low ticket sales.
Besides the '96-'97 world tour, The Three Tenors gave in addition two benefit concerts one in Modena the home town of Pavarotti in summer 1997 and one in Madrid the home town of Domingo in the following winter, in order to raise money for the rebuilding of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona as well as for the Queen Sofia Foundation.
A second series of concerts outside of the FIFA World cup events held again in 1999 including cities like Tokyo, Pretoria and Detroit followed by a Christmas concert in Vienna on December the same year. In 2000 the Three Tenors toured again performing live in San Jose, California, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Hamburg, Cleveland and Sao Paulo. However, the production had to cancel a planned concert for this tour in Albany, New York due to poor ticket sales. One more benefit concert was given by The Three Tenors in December 2000 in Chicago to donate the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. In 2001 two more concerts was given in Asia one in Seoul and one in Beijing inside the walls of the Forbidden City. Finally in 2003 they performed in Bath at the Royal Crescent and later in September the same year they gave their last Three Tenors' concert, which took place at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.
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 best-selling classical music 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 ranged from opera to Broadway to Neapolitan songs and pop hits. The group's signature songs included "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's opera Turandot, usually 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 the masses. Some[who?] 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."
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.
The success of the Three Tenors formula led to various imitations, such as the Irish Tenors, Tenor Australis, The Canadian Tenors, the Ten Tenors, Three Tenors and a Soprano, the Three Sopranos, Three Mo' Tenors, Les Contre-Ténors (Andreas Scholl, Dominique Visse, Pascal Bertin), the 2012 "China's Three Tenors" tour (Wei Song, Dai Yuqiang, and Warren Mok), The 3 Chinese Tenors (Australia), Il Divo 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. The Brazilian samba singers Moreira da Silva, Bezerra and Dicró produced in 1995 the album "Bezerra, Moreira e Dicró - Os 3 Malandros in Concert", portraying a satirical imitation as the three "malandros", Portuguese slang for bohemian rascals. Another satirical Three Terrors, produced in June 2010, by Latma features singers who resemble Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Bashar Assad singing joyfully about using terrorism to conquer the world "from Tennessee to Teheran."
Throughout the Seinfeld episode "The Doll", José Carreras is repeatedly referred to as "the other guy". In The Simpsons episode "Homer of Seville", Homer becomes an opera star and gives advice to Plácido Domingo, while referring to him as his "third favorite" of the Three Tenors. The Animaniacs cartoon Three Tenors and You're Out featured the trio performing at Dodger Stadium. The Canadian sketch comedy series Royal Canadian Air Farce parodied The Three Tenors in a sketch.
|1||Rome, Italy||Baths of Caracalla||1990 FIFA World Cup||7 July 1990|
|2||Los Angeles, USA||Dodger Stadium||1994 FIFA World Cup||16 July 1994|
|3||Tokyo, Japan||Kasumigaoka Stadium||World Tour||29 June 1996|
|4||London, UK||Wembley Stadium||World Tour||6 July 1996|
|5||Vienna, Austria||Ernst Happel Stadion||World Tour||13 July 1996|
|6||New Jersey, USA||Giants Stadium||World Tour||20 July 1996|
|7||Goteborg, Sweden||Ullevi Stadium||World Tour||26 July 1996|
|8||Munich, Germany||Olympic Stadium||World Tour||3 August 1996|
|9||Düsseldorf, Germany||Rheinstadion||World Tour||24 August 1996|
|10||Vancouver, Canada||BC Place||World Tour||31 December 1996|
|11||Toronto, Canada||Skydome||World Tour||4 January 1997|
|12||Melbourne, Australia||Cricket Ground||World Tour||1 March 1997|
|13||Miami, USA||Pro Player Stadium||World Tour||8 March 1997|
|14||Modena, Italy||Stadio Alberto Braglia||Benefit concert||17 June 1997|
|15||Barcelona, Spain||Camp Nou||World Tour||13 July 1997|
|16||Madrid, Spain||Teatro Real||Benefit concert||8 January 1998|
|17||Paris, France||Champ de Mars||1998 FIFA World Cup||10 July 1998|
|18||Tokyo, Japan||Tokyo Dome||World Tour||9 January 1999|
|19||Pretoria, South Africa||Union Buildings||World Tour||18 April 1999|
|20||Detroit, USA||Tiger Stadium||World Tour||17 July 1999|
|21||Vienna, Austria||Konzerthaus||Christmas concert||23 December 1999|
|22||San Jose, USA||San Jose Arena||World Tour||29 December 1999|
|23||Las Vegas, USA||Mandalay Bay||World Tour||22 April 2000|
|24||Washington, D.C., USA||MCI Center||World Tour||7 May 2000|
|25||Hamburg, Germany||Volksparkstadion||World Tour||16 June 2000|
|26||Cleveland, USA||Browns Stadium||World Tour||25 June 2000|
|27||Sao Paulo, Brazil||Estádio do Morumbi||World Tour||22 July 2000|
|28||Chicago, USA||United Center||Benefit concert||17 December 2000|
|29||Seoul, South Korea||Jamsil Olympic Stadium||World Tour||22 June 2001|
|30||Beijing, China||Forbidden City||World Tour||23 June 2001|
|31||Yokohama, Japan||Yokohama Arena||2002 FIFA World Cup||27 June 2002|
|32||Bath, UK||Royal Crescent||World Tour||7 August 2003|
|33||Columbus, Ohio, USA||Schottenstein Center||World Tour||28 September 2003|