All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis Just a generation ago, posterity hadn't quite made up its mind about Franco Corelli. Corelli was an operatic oddity, a self-trained singer with movie star looks who largely learned his craft from listening to old records of his predecessors. Corelli made up for what he may have lacked in conventionally trained, "beautiful" tone with an approach that emphasized power and electric energy over all, and gradually rose through the ranks of tenors to become a major star of Italian opera. This EMI collection, The Very Best of Franco Corelli, concentrates its focus on recordings Corelli made in the 1960s during the height of his popularity. As these selections are "bleeding chunks" drawn from recordings of complete operas such as "Pagliacci," "Rigoletto," "Tosca," and others, this is kind of an odd sampling of Corelli. Other voices, and even choruses, involved in the opera's story line tend to dart in and out of the selections, and the effect can be disorienting at times. But there are plenty of moments of such excitement here as to get your blood boiling, and it becomes clear that Corelli is the one who is turning up the heat. Sometimes, the 1960s EMI recordings are a little harsh and gritty, but hearing Corelli sing the 24 minutes' worth of disconnected excerpts from his famous recording of "Andrea Chénier" is more than enough to whet the appetite for the whole meal. Outside of featuring Corelli in Italian and French opera, the disc is filled out with perhaps too few examples of his fine work in Neapolitan song. These selections help illustrate the fact that Corelli's talent was no accident, and that Franco Corelli's place among the great operatic tenors that he so admired is deserved and, hopefully, assured.