It was in Montréal in 1978-long before the "three tenors" or Pavarotti & Friends-that the man with the golden voice performed one of his first grand televised concerts to be broadcast internationally. The man originally behind this event was Jean-Yves Hardy, then in charge of public development for the brand new National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Hardy's initial goal was to bring Pavarotti to Ottawa in 1975 at the request of a friend who had recently been appointed president of the Ontario Federation of Credit Unions and who wanted something out of the ordinary to close the association's annual general meeting. But Pavarotti's agent stipulated that he also perform in Montréal, so Hardy found himself planning not oneRead more but two concerts. The success of these performances was the start of a great friendship between the Italian tenor and the budding Québec producer. Pavarotti returned to sing in Montréal in 1976 and 1977, and on several occasions invited Hardy to hear him perform at the Metropolitan Opera and to his luxury apartment in New York.
But on the way to the airport after the 1977 recital, Pavarotti told his friend that he could not see himself returning for a fourth consecutive year to give yet another recital with piano accompaniment. So Hardy suggested that the singer perform the Christmas album he had recorded the previous year, but in a concert with choir and orchestra that would be recorded on video. Although the video market was then only in its infancy, Pavarotti accepted immediately; in less than a year, Hardy secured a co-production between a limited partnership he founded especially for the concert and Société Radio-Canada. He himself took care of bringing together in Notre-Dame Basilica the head organist Pierre Grandmaison, the choir of the Disciples de Massenet, the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal, and some of Montréal's finest orchestral musicians under the baton of maestro Franz-Paul Decker.
Producer Jean-Yves Landry pulled out all the stops to turn the concert into an exceptional audio-visual document. For the first time, an arts broadcast used special lenses that had been previously reserved for sporting events such as the Montréal Olympics, for which Radio-Canada had been the official broadcaster two years earlier. Recorded on September 21, 1978, the concert was initially broadcast on Radio-Canada for Christmas 1979, in the U.S. on PBS in 1982, and later around the world, before being marketed as a video.
Recently, however, Hardy digitally enhanced the video for transfer onto DVD. And although stereo television did not exist at the time of the recording, one of the sound technicians had the brilliant idea of creating a stereo recording along with the mono track. This previously unused stereo audio track, which Hardy subsequently enhanced to Dolby 5.1, is featured on this new improved DVD edition of the concert. Read less