Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pavarotti and Zucchero --- Miserere

I'm not so sure that the collaboration between Pavarotti and Eros Ramazzotti in my recent post actually worked so well. The great song they performed together, Se Bastasse una Canzone, If a Song were Enough, was a pop one written by Ramazzotti and I thought that Pavarotti's performance was rather stiff and unemotional. I think that when he sang this song, Miserere, with Zucchero it was much more successful. The song was written by Bono and Zucchero in 1992 and Pavarotti and Zucchero performed it live in concert at that time. Does it work? What do you think?

Zucchero is an Italian rock singer with a very different sound, being heavily influenced by rhythm and blues. He has been a very successful singer since the early eighties, his momentum building him into the international star he is today. He has performed or recorded with many varied singers including Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Ray Charles, Sting, and Elton John, among others.

He was the person to discover Andrea Bocelli which is an interesting story in itself. Having written Miserere, Zucchero wanted to make a demonstration tape with himself and a tenor to send to Pavarotti so that he might convince him to record it with him. In 1992, he auditioned young tenors and chose Andrea Bocelli to make the demo tape. Zucchero said of this young tenor:
"Andrea was just unbelievable! He had something not one of the other tenors possessed. He had soul." When Pavarotti received the demo, he was extremely impressed with Andrea's voice, "Zucchero! Who is this guy?" Pavarotti demanded. "Thank you for writing such a wonderful song. Yet you do not need me to sing it - let Andrea sing 'Miserere' with you, for there is no one finer."*

Of course, Pavarotti recorded it, but Bocelli went on tour with Zucchero to perform the duet in concert and he was so well received that he gained a solo spot on the program. Thus his successful singing career was launched.

Now do click and listen, don't just read the text. I think this is a great song and a great crossover performance. As the Italians say, Vale la pena - It's worth it.

* Taken from here.


Ellee Seymour said...

Simply stunning, it gave me butteflies in my tummy.

Sean Jeating said...

A pleasure for my ears.

Se tu avessi ornamenti quant'ài voglia, / poresti arditamente /
uscir boscho, et gir in fra la gente.

Well, nor would my song be artful enough to please your ears; I'd rather join Petrarca in the forest. :)

Carver said...

I'm going to take a chance on sounding ignorant by saying how it struck me (both duets). I love the collaboration between Pavarotti and Zucchero. What stood out for me was that their performances were of equal weight and emotion. Obviously very different singers but I wanted to hear Zucchero as well as Pavarotti when they traded back and forth. Pavarotti didn't overshadow Zucchero for me and I'd love to hear more of Z.

I hadn't picked up on the stiffness in P, the first time around with the Pavarotti and Ramazzotti duet. However, I found myself listening more for Pavorotti's voice and being almost distracted by the collaboration so I had to go back and hear that again. What I found this time going from the P and Z collaboration back to the P and R collaboration was that to me it seemed that Ramazzotti has a very smooth style. At the risk of sounding dumb, I felt some similarities between him and Sinatra.

It almost seemed to me that Pavarotti was giving a smooth counterpart performance and it didn't strike me so much as stiff but as smooth vs emotional. In a way it made sense to me, but for me the duet didn't work as well, if the idea was for each performer to have equal weight.

For whatever reason, I thought Pavrotti and Zucchero both singing from their hearts (or that's how it seemed) was brilliant as a duet. This is probably just me and I'll acknowledge that I love opera and a fully trained brilliant voice with a lot of heart, and I love rock and a rough voice with a lot of heart. My reactions are probably more about me than the performances. However, I'm enjoying thinking about it so thanks for posting these.

leslie said...

Interesting post, so I went back and listened to both again. I agree with you that P seemed a bit detached/unemotional with R and much more "into" the song with Z. At first, I didn't care for R's voice; it seemed a bit nasal or something to my ears, but the more I listened and as the song progressed, I found I was enjoying his voice more. I'd love to hear more from him. But I do think I prefer Z's style - a bit more rough around the edges to me. The P and Z duet was better, I think than the P and R one. However, how can anyone truly criticize anything P does. Thanks so much for sharing these two duets with us.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Perhaps he could have just gone to Pavarotti with the idea in the first place? Do you sing, JMB?

jmb said...

Hi Ellee,
It is a beautiful song and beautifully sung here with lots of emotion.

Hi Sean,
I'm glad you enjoyed this one too. I think it far more successful than the first but I do like Ramazzotti a lot.

Hi Carver,
Being a singer yourself you can appreciate the voices and make a fair comparison. I love Ramazzotti. He is very Italian but I like his voice and his style. I think the first didn't work because R put his all into it and Pavarotti sang it in a more declarative style. Beautiful but it did not mesh with R's style.
Zucchero and Pavarotti I thought a much better collaboration but of course Zucchero wrote it with that in mind and they both put everything into it. Zucchero held his own very well with Pavarotti.

Hi Leslie,
Ramazzotti and Zucchero are two different styled singers and R is smoother for sure. I like them both and have CDs of them both, although more of R. If you look on YouTube you can find all of R's performances because he posts them to YouTube. He actually is a member. You can't embed them but you can link to them.

Hi James,
Well he did go to him but he wanted the demo tape to convince Pavarotti that it would work.

I used to do a lot of choral singing before I left Australia with a big choir and orchestra and a small choir on the radio. A first alto. Then I did the folk thing with the guitar in the seventies but just for friends and children's groups. Long past it now.

Thanks for visiting and commenting

Liz said...

I wil listen later. Cleaning younger Son's bedroom at the moment. I'm wishing I hadn't started!!

Gledwood said...

I like that Zucchero & Paul Young one Senza Una Donna that is a good tune!

Janice Thomson said...

This was a much better performance to watch and the song much more suitable for Pavarotti. Pavarotti has a very regal and baronial bearing both in his demeanor and his voice which seems out of place when in another environment. Each of these artists have their own merit but it becomes a bit of a contrived performance when placed together. The 3 Tenors did so well because the genre was the same yet each singer has very different musical qualities.
I very much like Zucchero, Ramazzotti and Pavarotti - but not together. It is like eating an apple and an orange - each is a wonderful flavor on their own but together their sweetness does not match and one becomes a bit of a bitter taste ruining the whole effect. This is just my own personal opinion.

jmb said...

Hi Liz,
I hope you enjoy it. That was a mistake, that cleaning business. I try to avoid it at all costs.

Hi Gledwood,

Senza una donna is a great song and it was one of Zucchero's first big hits.

Hi Janice,
I thought it worked so much better too. A more balanced performance all around.
The Three Tenors did work well, even when they sang more popular songs than arias.
I totally agree with you. I love them all and another Italian pop singer called Nek too is a favourite of mine. But they do better separately, however when they collaborate they do introduce their style of music to a different audience and that is a good thing too.

Thanks for visiting and commenting