When Is A Duet Actually A Duet? : Deceptive Cadence Do you have to have two living musical partners for a collaboration to be successful? New projects pairing living artists with long-dead icons raise some spectral possibilities.

When Is A Duet Actually A Duet?

Soprano Angela Gheorghiu. courtesy of the artist hide caption

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courtesy of the artist

Soprano Angela Gheorghiu.

courtesy of the artist

Soprano Angela Gheorghiu has drafted an unlikely collaborator. For her latest album, Homage To Maria Callas: Favourite Opera Arias, the Romanian singer recorded a "duet" with Callas on the Habanera from Bizet's Carmen, using concert footage of La Divina from 1961, in a feat an EMI engineer has likened to "audio Photoshop."

Watch Angela Gheorghiu And Maria Callas Sing 'Habanera'

This isn't the first time Gheorghiu has paid overt tribute to her fellow Balkanite. The cover of her My World album re-created a famous Callas photo. But this new video takes that enthusiasm a step further.

And Gheorghiu isn't even the only artist this month to release a project containing a duet between the living and the deceased. The folks behind the Zenph technology of "re-performances®," as they style them, have created projects including "re-performances®" of Rachmaninoff, Glenn Gould and Art Tatum. They even had violinist Joshua Bell "duet" live with Rachmaninoff:

Violinist Joshua Bell "duets" with Sergei Rachmaninoff.


For the latest Zenph effort, they've enlisted soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian and cellist Zuill Bailey to performing "alongside" Isaac Albeniz (who died in 1909), Enrique Granados (d. 1916) and Manuel de Falla (d. 1946).

Hear Manuel De Falla And Zuill Bailey Play Together

Cover for The Spanish Masters

The Spanish Masters

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/142209842/142217474" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Hear De Falla And Bailey Play The 'Canción' from De Falla's Siete Canciones Populares Españolas

  • Song:
  • from The Spanish Masters
  • by Zuill Bailey

This is all kind of old hat to the larger musical world. Twenty or so years ago, there was Natalie Cole singing with her deceased dad, not to mention Hank Williams père et fils' "There's A Tear In My Beer" or the unspeakable Louis Armstrong and Kenny G "collaboration." Perhaps there's a greater sensitivity to such projects in the classical world, which is so often occupied with — and maybe even paralyzed by — very strongly held notions of received tradition and respect.

What do you think of these kinds of generation-spanning projects? Are they interesting? Disrespectful? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.