(06 April 2013) The program Divinas Live at Chambord Castle being aired this spring on Public Broadcasting System (PBS) stations, produced by Grammy-winning composer Craig Leon, brings together the talents of three gifted world music singers. These include Celtic Woman's very own Méav, New Zealand's classical crossover artist, Yulia and Israel's Rita.
Several revisions to the project's plan were made by the producer and labels before its eventual filming in May 2012 amid the magnificent surroundings of the Chateau de Chambord, France. Both Méav and Yulia's music have been reviewed at Musical Discoveries in depth. Links to these reviews and interviews are provided in the left column.
Public Broadcasting has backed numerous music recordings--including, for example Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder, Sarah Brightman--to the mutual benefit of their viewers, the artists and the PBS network. Divinas is the second project featuring Méav's work and the first to showcase Yulia. The recordings also serve the record labels' and the individual artists' promotional interests.
Premiums are typically provided in exchange for pledges to the PBS local television stations made by dedicated viewers. Material is therefore tuned to the PBS audience demographic. Divinas - Live at Chambord Castle has been published both as a 12-track CD (Decca Records (USA) B0018200-02, 2013) and a 19-track [NTSC] DVD (Decca Records (USA) B0018201-19, 2013). These recordings are available exclusively as PBS premium gifts to those that pledge.
All tracks on the CD are presented on the DVD as well. However, the DVD also includes "Autumn Leaves," "My Love Is Like A Red Rose," and "Those Were The Days" as extra tracks in the live performance as well as extra titles "Love Has Begun," "My Lagan Love," "Russia" and "Yad Anuga," each intended to give one of the artists additional spotlight.
Divinas does a good job showcasing each of the individual artists although the material that was finally selected for the project is tuned for the PBS viewer demography and is quite pedestrian. More than half of the titles included on the recordings are pop-song covers. Celtic classics have also been included. Yulia's and Méav's individual performances are really most excellent and serve their platforms well.
Some of the pop song covers selected for these recordings are delivered well but do not showcase the artists' talents as well as other material might. Our least favorite of the lot was the trio's performance of the Mary Hopkin classic "Those Were The Days."
In Méav's case, the Divinas project provides a solid foundation to support her post-Celtic Woman relaunch. It also establishes some brand recognition to support the promotion of her forthcoming solo album The Calling, also produced by Craig Leon, this quarter. It will be her first solo album since 2004. As reviews of her former work here have revealed previously, Méav has fantastic talent and stage presence and a well-trained crystalline voice. Her delivery of the Celtic classic "Glasgow's Burning" on this project is stunning.
For Yulia, the Divinas project is the first to capture the artist on video for North American audiences. A young woman with a powerful classical voice capable of deliverying material in many styles, the project serves to introduce her to the American public, although perhaps in a demographic that may not appreciate her artistic talent and integrity. Listen to the fabulous growth demonsrated in her stunning lead on "Ochi Tchornia (Dark Eyes)." Read our album reviews to learn more about her work. In addition to stunning live performances available on CD from Yulia's website, Yulia is completing a new solo project due for release in the third quarter.
Listeners and viewers alike will find that Divinas - Live at Chambord Castle is well-produced, is filmed and recorded well, and is set in a stunning location. The arrangements and orchestral performances are also great. The on-stage deliveries of Yulia and Méav and the audio tracks are completely stunning. Yulia has clearly performed a more artistically true selection of material on her albums and in other live performances.
While the selection of material on Divinas may be more in line with her work as part of Celtic Woman, Méav has also selected and performed more interesting material in both live and recorded settings. She has much more to offer artistically than is offered here.
In addition to their solo spots in the recording, the three singers work in pairs and as a trio on stage. Listeners and viewers are certain to be drawn to Yulia who is an extremely remarkable artist in her own right. Sonically perfect, her on-stage persona is captured effectively in the video. Similarly, those that secure the DVD and CD premium gifts will find Méav's vocal work and on-stage visuals essentially the same as on the Celtic Woman series.
At this writing the DVD/CD are available
via WQED Pittsburgh here. Interested shoppers should search for the term "DIVINAS." There you can purchase the CD and DVD for a donation pledge to PBS.
Two PBS pledge drives have been planned. The first was in March, yet some broadcasts likely continue into April. The next one is in June 2013. A concert tour is planned for September across the United States in support of PBS participating stations. The tour will expose the artists to local audiences. Visitors should be on the lookout for Méav's new album The Calling this spring and Yulia's new album in the fall.