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''The Three Tenors'' Try Again

The upcoming follow-up album will be working hard to top the 1990 original

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Although Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras’ Encore! The Three Tenors, which aired live from L.A.’s Dodger Stadium July 16, was criticized for spotty sound and commercial overtones, the event was a mere prelude to the basso-profundo marketing blitz still to come for the album.

Taking its cue from the success of 1990’s Three Tenors (more than 10 million copies sold), Atlantic Records plans to promote The III Tenors in Concert: 1994 (due Aug. 30) like a pop release, with radio contest giveaways and life-size stand-ups of the trio at record stores. ”The record will sell to people who don’t necessarily buy classical,” says Atlantic’s Sandy Sawotka.

The tenors have also learned from the past. In ’90, the three reportedly waived record royalties, accepting a flat fee instead. This time out, they’re taking no chances: Their reported $1 million fees for the $13.5 million-grossing concert will be augmented by royalties from the CD and a video.

But not everyone is convinced Tenors: 1994 will outperform the original. Sources say the concert’s encores of such egregious tunes as ”Singin’ in the Rain” were performed expressly to assure backup versions. ”Three Tenors had substance,” says Billboard’s Marc Zubatkin. ”Too much pop might kill [the sequel]. Do you really want to hear Pavarotti doing My Way?”

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