In 1984, Deutsche Grammophon put out a recording of West Side Story featuring Kiri Te Kanawa (Maria), José Carreras (Tony), Tatiana Troyanos (Anita), and Kurt Ollmann (Riff). This recording is, to put it mildly, bizarre, with these operatic titans producing a final recording of quite questionable quality.
Even more bizarre than the recording was the release the following year of a documentary covering the entire recording project. This documentary (which I have seen several times) is a fascinating window into the world of classical recording sessions and the rehearsal style of Leonard Bernstein, and it is full of cringe-worthy humor as various selections (especially any featuring José Carreras) go awry.
One leaves this documentary with a pretty dim view of the musical intelligence of José Carreras. Many stereotypes of opera singers are reinforced in painful sequences featuring Bernstein basically ripping Carreras apart for lack of rhythm and groove. Watching the highly extroverted and expressive Bernstein cringe, grimace, roll his eyes, and cover his face with his hands is extraordinarily funny.
Check out this clip of an especially painful moment from ‘Something’s Coming’:
If you’d like to check out the documentary in its entirety, you can follow the link below: