Plácido Domingo

The Best of Placido Domingo: 20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection

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The "best-of" compilation doesn't really suit classical performers, who don't have "hits" in the pop sense and whose performances are best heard in the context of the complete works in which they participate. But such packages are a convention of the record industry, and Universal's 20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection, a discount-priced series that was selling for a list price of $11.98 in 2004 (which tends to translate into a retail price below $10), found success creating highlights albums of both pop and classical artists. It's hard to argue when, as here, you get more than 63 minutes of music. But compilation producer Joseph S. Szurly takes a somewhat surprising tack in surveying the lengthy recording career of Plácido Domingo in that the opera selections are so limited. Beginning the collection with a few Spanish songs is only to be expected for this Spanish (by way of Mexico) singer, and then come the standard opera arias such as La Donna È Mobile from Rigoletto and Vesti La Giubba from Pagliacci. But there are only seven of these tracks before the album goes back to art songs, concluding with, of all things, the Mario Lanza hit "Be My Love." Szurly's goal seems to have been to emphasize the more "pop" aspects of the repertoire of this extremely popular opera tenor, but in so doing he has short-changed the singer's true strong suit.

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