One of the most beloved spiritual leaders of the modern era, Pope John Paul II was not only a humanitarian and theologian, but an artist and author. In his pre-Papal life as Karol Wojtyła, the holy man wrote plays, essays, and, most notably, poetry. Considering that John Paul II was known as the “people’s Pope,” it makes sense that his work should be interpreted by another figure with populist leanings, the great tenor Placido Domingo, who consistently brought classical music to non-traditional audiences. As such, much of the music here is of a very accessible nature. “La Tua Semplicita” is a duet that employs a sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangement, while the gentle, Domingo-composed “Gratitude” pairs the opera great with R&B crooner Vanessa Williams and features Irish penny whistle. Throughout, Domingo attempts to capture both the simple truth and faith-based zeal that characterized Pope John Paul II’s literary work.
Review by Pemberton Roach