During his lifetime, and even after his death, Luciano Pavarotti was seen not only as a operatic institution, but a musical one. It was rare for an exponent of a niche genre like opera to make a successful crossover into mainstream popular music and be universally acclaimed - but 'Il Maestro' did so fruitfully.
If nothing else, then, this collection of duets with some of 'Music's Biggest Stars' displays the Italian legend's versatility. Many of these collaborations were recorded at the War Child charity concerts he regularly held in his home town of Modena, and although some have been slathered in far too much mozzarella to be palatable, the majority are successful.
As intolerable as they may be otherwise, for example, both Sting and Bono (with Brian Eno and The Edge) have the good sense to hold their egos back temporarily, on a reverential reading of 'Panis Angelicus', and the emotional 'Miss Sarajevo', respectively. The Andrea Bocelli and Frank Sinatra duets ('My Way' and 'Notte 'E Piscatore') also work well, while Sheryl Crow's turn on 'La Ci Darem La Mano' is actually quite elegant and beautiful.
There are moments, though, that you wonder how anyone thought 'This'll work'. Pavarotti singing Mariah Carey's 'Hero' seems almost insulting to his legacy (although his segment is in Italian, so we're spared hearing one of the greatest voices of the 21st century sing such trite nonsense as "You can find love if you search within yourself", etc.), and the partnerships with Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi and Eric Clapton are also quite awful at times. In any case, this is very obviously a novelty album - so it's fine if you're interested in peculiar collaborations, but it's impossible to get a sense of Pavarotti's true vocal prowess, and the emotion it was capable of eliciting, at any point.