1. Andrea Bocelli and Heather Headley, "The Prayer." Better than the original version with Celine Dion, I think. Beautiful vocal control by Heather Headley, who first made her mark as Nala in "The Lion King" on Broadway and then went on to grab the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical with her spellbinding turn as a captive Nubian princess in "Aida."
2. Tony Bennett and Christina Aguilera, "Steppin' Out." The grizzled elder statesman of American pop music, still in swingin' form at 81, teams up with a young but old-soul songstress, and the result is magic. Christina, looking like a reincarnated Jean Harlow in her platinum 'do and gown, eases up on the belting and lets her honey-glazed pipes dance instead. Mr. Bennett matches her sparkle all the way.
This video is from "Tony Bennett: An American Classic," a musical special directed by Rob Marshall that recently copped 8 Emmy nominations. Mr. Marshall also directed the smash film version of "Chicago," and you can still see echoes of that movie here. What the iconic images of chairs, stockings, strobe lights, ripped abs, long legs and sinuous moves evoke, however, is the memory of Bob Fosse, the legendary choreographer whose work ("Cabaret," "Chicago," "Sweet Charity") forever trademarked this seductive visual aesthetic.
3. Bryn Terfel and Renee Fleming, "Wheels of a Dream." Broadway goes classical as two of the best voices in opera today tackle the soaring anthem from "Ragtime." Mr. Terfel, the charismatic Welsh baritone, graciously cedes the vocal pyrotechnics to the diva beside him, who proceeds to show off her awesome range with a transporting high C in the end.
The original Broadway version of "Wheels of a Dream" was sung by two musical-theater greats, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald. "Ragtime" streamlined the epic sprawl of the E.L. Doctorow novel on which it was based to focus on the story of a black man's violent quest for justice in 1900's America. Coalhouse Walker, a ragtime musician, has grown prosperous enough to own a car, in an era when such a sight provoked resentment among whites. In "Wheels of a Dream" the automobile, a Ford Model T, becomes a symbol of all that is hopeful and promising in the New World. Act 2 will see those dreams shattered, but in Act 1, the bloom of youthful possibility beckons to the black man and his bride. Mr. Mitchell and Ms. McDonald bring the scene to a glorious finale with this number.