At the height of her decade-long rise to fame, Julieta Venegas released her first live album, MTV Unplugged, a star-studded and meticulously arranged performance recorded before 450 adoring fans in Mexico City. She performs her greatest hits, of course, but she also adds to her set list relatively obscure songs -- most delightfully "Esta Vez," a ballad from her debut album, Aquí (1998) -- and several new songs, including the international chart-topping lead single, "El Presente." As with many MTV Unplugged albums, guest stars are featured throughout; most noteworthy among them here are Spanish rapper Mala Rodríguez, who performs in the place of Chilean rapper Anita Tijoux on "Eres Para Mí," and Brazilian superstar Marisa Monte, who duets in Portuguese on "Ilusión" (a new song written by Venegas, Monte, and Arnaldo Antunes). Guest star or not, the performances are each interesting in their arrangements, which are generally quite different from their studio original counterparts. "Lento," one of Venegas' biggest and best hits, is the most drastically rearranged -- just piano and strings, plus chorus vocals, including some from the audience, who amusingly fight their collective urge to sing along. At least 20 different musicians are credited for the performance, chief among them Mexican alternative star Natalia Lafourcade, who switches instruments throughout. Given the guest star appearances and the small army of musicians, MTV Unplugged is best enjoyed on DVD, where the show can be seen as well as heard. This is a wonderful performance by Venegas, a pop star of the highest integrity and one with great regard for her craft. Fans of her music -- and fans of Latin pop in general -- shouldn't overlook this album because of the MTV affiliation. The new material and newly arranged versions of the hits are well worth checking out, and the performance is brilliantly executed.