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Nessun dorma (English: None shall sleep)[1] is an aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot,[2] and is one of the best-known tenor arias in all opera. It is sung by Calaf, il principe ignoto (the unknown prince), who falls in love at first sight with the beautiful but cold Princess Turandot. However, any man who wishes to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles; if he fails, he will be beheaded.

Contents

Context and musical analysis

In the act before this aria, Calaf has correctly answered the three riddles put to all of Princess Turandot's prospective suitors. Nonetheless, she recoils at the thought of marriage to him. Calaf offers her another chance by challenging her to guess his name by dawn. (As he kneels before her, the Nessun dorma theme makes a first appearance, to his words, "Il mio nome non sai!") If she does so, she can execute him; but if she does not, she must marry him. The cruel and emotionally cold princess then decrees that none of her subjects shall sleep that night until his name is discovered. If they fail, all will be killed.

As the final act opens, it is now night. Calaf is alone in the moonlit palace gardens. In the distance, he hears Turandot's heralds proclaiming her command. His aria begins with an echo of their cry and a reflection on Princess Turandot:

"Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma! Tu pure, o Principessa, nella tua fredda stanza, guardi le stelle che tremano d'amore, e di speranza!"
(English translation: "None shall sleep! None shall sleep! Even you, O Princess, in your cold bedroom, watch the stars that tremble with love and with hope!")
"Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me; il nome mio nessun saprà! No, No! Sulla tua bocca lo dirò quando la luce splenderà!"
("But my secret is hidden within me; none will know my name! No, no! On your mouth I will say it when the light shines!")
"Ed il mio bacio scioglierà il silenzio che ti fa mia!"
("And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!")

Just before the climactic end of the aria, a chorus of women is heard singing in the distance:

"Il nome suo nessun saprà... E noi dovrem, ahimè, morir, morir!"
("No one will know his name... and we will have to, alas, die, die!")

Calaf, now certain of victory, sings:

"Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle! All'alba vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!"
("Vanish, o night! Set, stars! Set, stars! At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win! ")

In performance, the final "Vincerò!" features a sustained B4,[3] followed by the final note, an A4 sustained even longer—although Puccini's score did not explicitly specify that either note be sustained.[4] In the original score, the B is written as an eighth note while the A is a quarter note. Both are high notes in the tenor range. The only recording to follow Puccini's score exactly was the very first, sung by Gina Cigna and Francesco Merli, conducted by Franco Ghione.

In Alfano's completion of Act 3, the Nessun dorma theme makes a final triumphal appearance at the end of the opera. The theme also makes a concluding reappearance in Luciano Berio's later completion (this having been an expressed intention of Puccini's), but in a more subdued orchestration.

Recordings

Nessun dorma sung by some of the most famous interpreters of Calaf appear on the following compilation recordings. (For full-length recordings of the opera, see Turandot discography.)

Cultural references and adaptations

Nessun dorma achieved pop status after Luciano Pavarotti's recording of it was used as the theme song of BBC television's coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. It subsequently reached #2 on the UK Singles Chart, the highest placing ever by a classical recording.[5]

Although Pavarotti was too heavy to sustain the role of Calaf on stage, this did not prevent him from making Nessun dorma his signature aria and, in turn, a sporting anthem in its own right, especially for football.[5] Pavarotti gave a rendition of Nessun dorma at his final performance, the finale of the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, although it was later revealed that he had lip-synched the specially pre-recorded performance.[6] His Decca recording of the aria was played at his funeral during the flypast by the Italian Air Force.[7]

Nessun dorma has been used in many films,[8] often appearing at a central moment in the film—sometimes with the aria's moment of musical resolution aligned with the film's narrative climax, giving symbolic meaning to the aria's rich emotional impact. Films in which the aria plays a significant role in the soundtrack include The Killing Fields,[9] New York Stories, [10] Mar adentro,[11] The Sum of All Fears,[12] The Mirror Has Two Faces,[13] and Bend It Like Beckham.[8] Nessun Dorma is also the title of a short film by Ken Russell included in the 1987 film Aria.[14] (Aria consists of ten segments by a variety of directors; each one features the director's visual accompaniment to arias and scenes from operas. The films have minimal or no dialogue, with most of the spoken content coming from the words of the aria itself.)

Aretha Franklin notably performed Nessun dorma as a last-minute replacement for Pavarotti on the Grammy Awards of 1998 telecast. A recording of this performance was later included on her album Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen. Another female singer to record this aria for tenor (male voice), has been Italian superstar Mina whose hyped rendition opened the 2009 Sanremo Music Festival.

For other recorded renditions of Nessun dorma by notable vocalists from outside the opera world, see One Chance by Paul Potts, The Voice by Russell Watson, The Winner's Journey by Damien Leith, My Secret Passion by Michael Bolton, both Eden and Classics by Sarah Brightman, My American Dream by Neal E. Boyd and We Fall and We Rise Again by Donald Braswell II.

Adaptations of the aria to other musical genres include a heavy metal version by Manowar in their album Warriors of the World,[15] and Vincero, an opera/disco fusion by Fredrik Kempe. Vincero is also used for the popular line dance Trust me![16][17] Russian pop star Vitas performs a countertenor version (though he doesn't usually sing the last verse).[citation needed]

Scott Foppiano, American Theatre Organ Society's Organist of the year for 2007,[18] released a theatre pipe organ transcription of the aria on his album, Beyond the Blue Horizon.[19]

Clarinetist Don Byron plays the aria on his album A Fine Line, released in 2000.[citation needed]

In 2008, Gaither Vocal Band tenor David Phelps recorded Nessun Dorma on his solo album "The Voice." He later performed Nessun Dorma on the Gaither Vocal Band's Reunited DVD.

In 2009, singer Antony Hegarty, lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons recorded the aria with the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra, which was released for free by the Italian coffee company, Lavazza. While the orchestration of the recording is Puccini's original, Hegarty performs the song with his famous, quavering delivery.[20]

References

  1. ^ Puccini, Giacomo; Adami, G., & Simoni, R. (1978). "Act III, Scene I" (in English, Italian). Turandot. Opera Vocal Score Series. Milano, Italy: Ricordi. p. 291. OCLC 84595094. "None shall sleep tonight!" 
  2. ^ The libretto and score are © BMG Ricordi S.p.A.
  3. ^ Note: this article uses scientific pitch notation; e.g., B4 is the B above Middle C
  4. ^ 'Puccini scores' (musical and contextual analysis of 'Nessun Dorma'), National Review, July 23, 1990 (accessed 8 October 2007)
  5. ^ a b 'Nessun Dorma put football back on map' The Telegraph, September 7, 2007 (accessed 8 October 2007)
  6. ^ 'Pavarotti, Revered Even When Lip-Synching' The New York Times, April 7, 2008 (accessed 7 April 2008)
  7. ^ BBC News coverage of Pavarotti's final performance (accessed 8 October 2007); BBC News coverage of Pavarotti's funeral (accessed 8 October 2007)
  8. ^ a b Christopher Blank, High Note, Commercial Appeal, October 13, 2007. IMDB lists a total of 28 films, from 1942 to 2007, which include "Nessun dorma" (including two 3Tenors titles); see Giacomo Puccini
  9. ^ Stephen Holden, Eloquent Movies With Eloquent Soundtracks, New York Times, January 30, 1994
  10. ^ Soundtracks for New York Stories (1989).
  11. ^ Nelson Pressley, 'The Sea Inside': A Quest for Death, The Washington Post, December 17, 2004; Page C05
  12. ^ Gloria Goodale, 'Sum' signals change since 9/11, Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 2002
  13. ^ Jay Carr, Barbra Streisand looks into her 'Mirror' and discovers she's still a funny girl, Boston Globe, November 10, 1996. Retrieved via subscription 14 June 2008.
  14. ^ Richard Corliss, Opera for The Inoperative, Time Magazine, May 02, 1988.
  15. ^ Pop and Jazz Guide, New York Times, May 24, 2002. Accessed 9 May 2008.
  16. ^ Rich Davis, These boots are made for... Line dancing isn't just for the Boot Scootin' Boogie Bunch, Evansville Courier & Press, December 20, 2005. Accessed via subscription 9 May 2008; World Line Dance Newsletter. Accessed 9 May 2008.
  17. ^ Choreography of Trust me!, Tulsa Shuffle Line Dance Club. Accessed 9 May 2008.
  18. ^ Scott Foppiano on The American Theatre Organ Society's website
  19. ^ Scott Foppiano on theatreorgancds.com
  20. ^ Antony & Lavazza

External links


Nessun dorma (English: None shall sleep)[1] is an aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot,[2] and is one of the best-known tenor arias in all opera. It is sung by Calaf, il principe ignoto (the unknown prince), who falls in love at first sight with the beautiful but cold Princess Turandot. However, any man who wishes to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles; if he fails, he will be beheaded.

Contents

Context and analysis

In the act before this aria, Calaf has correctly answered the three riddles put to all of Princess Turandot's prospective suitors. Nonetheless, she recoils at the thought of marriage to him. Calaf offers her another chance by challenging her to guess his name by dawn. (As he kneels before her, the Nessun dorma theme makes a first appearance, to his words, "Il mio nome non sai!") If she does so, she can execute him; but if she does not, she must marry him. The cruel and emotionally cold princess then decrees that none of her subjects shall sleep that night until his name is discovered. If they fail, all will be killed.

As the final act opens, it is now night. Calaf is alone in the moonlit palace gardens. In the distance, he hears Turandot's heralds proclaiming her command. His aria begins with an echo of their cry and a reflection on Princess Turandot:

"Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma! Tu pure, o Principessa, nella tua fredda stanza, guardi le stelle.. che tremano d'amore, e di speranza!"
(English translation: "None shall sleep! None shall sleep! Even you, O Princess, in your cold bedroom, watch the stars.. that tremble with love and with hope!")
"Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me; il nome mio nessun saprà! No, No! Sulla tua bocca lo dirò quando la luce splenderà!"
("But my secret is hidden within me; none will know my name! No, no! On your mouth I will say it when the light shines!")

Interpreted translation:

("But my secret lies hidden within me; no one shall know my name! No, no! On your lips I will tell it (my name) when daylight shines!")
"Ed il mio bacio scioglierà il silenzio che ti fa mia!"
("And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!")

Interpreted translation:

("And my kiss will melt the (cold) silence and make you mine!"))

Just before the climactic end of the aria, a chorus of women is heard singing in the distance:

"Il nome suo nessun saprà... E noi dovrem, ahimè, morir, morir!"
("No one will know his name... and we will have to, alas, die, die!")

Calaf, now certain of victory, sings:

"Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle! All'alba vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!"
("Vanish, o night! Set, stars! Set, stars! At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win! ")

Interpreted translation:

("Vanish O Night! Fall away Stars! Fall away Stars! At sunrise, I shall win! I shall win! I shall win! ")

In performance, the final "Vincerò!" features a sustained B4,[3] followed by the final note, an A4 sustained even longer—although Puccini's score did not explicitly specify that either note be sustained.[4] In the original score, the B is written as an eighth note while the A is a quarter note. Both are high notes in the tenor range. The only recording to follow Puccini's score exactly was the very first, sung by Gina Cigna and Francesco Merli, conducted by Franco Ghione.

In Alfano's completion of Act 3, the Nessun dorma theme makes a final triumphal appearance at the end of the opera. The theme also makes a concluding reappearance in Luciano Berio's later completion (this having been an expressed intention of Puccini's), but in a more subdued orchestration.

Recordings

Nessun dorma sung by some of the most famous interpreters of Calaf appear on the following compilation recordings. (For full-length recordings of the opera, see Turandot discography.)

  • The Very Best of Beniamino Gigli (EMI Classics)
  • The Very Best of Jussi Björling (EMI Classics)
  • Richard Tucker in Recital (Columbia Masterworks/Myto)
  • The Very Best of Franco Corelli (EMI Classics)
  • Pavarotti Forever (Decca)
  • The Essential Plácido Domingo (Deutsche Grammophon)

Cultural references and adaptations

Nessun dorma achieved pop status after Luciano Pavarotti's recording of it was used as the theme song of BBC television's coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. It subsequently reached #2 on the UK Singles Chart, the highest placing ever by a classical recording.[5] Although Pavarotti rarely sang the role of Calaf on stage, Nessun dorma became his signature aria and, in turn, a sporting anthem in its own right, especially for football.[5] Pavarotti gave a rendition of Nessun dorma at his final performance, the finale of the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, although it was later revealed that he had lip-synched the specially pre-recorded performance.[6] His Decca recording of the aria was played at his funeral during the flypast by the Italian Air Force.[7]

Aretha Franklin performed Nessun dorma as a last-minute replacement for Pavarotti on the Grammy Awards of 1998 telecast. A recording of this performance was later included on her album Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen. The aria was sung by Andrea Bocelli during the opening ceremony of the Expo 2010, in Shanghai on April 30, 2010 and again on July 5, 2010 during the opening of the Khan Shatyry Entertainment Center, in Astana.[8][9] Nessun dorma sung by Sarah Brightman appears on two of her albums, Eden and Classics. Another female singer to record this aria has been Italian singer Mina whose rendition opened the 2009 Sanremo Music Festival. For other recorded renditions of Nessun dorma by notable vocalists from outside the opera world, see One Chance by Paul Potts, The Voice by Russell Watson, The Winner's Journey by Damien Leith, My Secret Passion by Michael Bolton, My American Dream by Neal E. Boyd and We Fall and We Rise Again by Donald Braswell II. Adaptations of the aria to other musical genres include a heavy metal version by Manowar in their album Warriors of the World,[10] and Vincero, an opera/disco fusion by Fredrik Kempe. Vincero is also used for the popular line dance Trust me![11][12] Scott Foppiano, American Theatre Organ Society's Organist of the year for 2007,[13] released a theatre pipe organ transcription of the aria on his album, Beyond the Blue Horizon.[14] In 2009, singer Antony Hegarty, lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons recorded the aria with the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra, which was released for free by the Italian coffee company, Lavazza. While the orchestration of the recording is Puccini's original, Hegarty performs the song with his famous, quavering delivery.[15] British guitarist Jeff Beck's 2010 album, Emotion & Commotion, includes an instrumental version of this aria where the guitar takes the place of the human voice to an orchestral accompaniment.[16] In 2007, trumpeter Chris Botti covered "Nessun Dorma" on his album Italia.[17][18]

Nessun dorma has been used in many films,[19] often appearing at a central moment in the film—sometimes with the aria's moment of musical resolution aligned with the film's narrative climax, giving symbolic meaning to the aria's rich emotional impact. Films in which the aria plays a significant role in the soundtrack include The Killing Fields,[20] New York Stories, [21] Mar adentro,[22] The Sum of All Fears,[23] The Mirror Has Two Faces,[24] and Bend It Like Beckham.[19] Nessun Dorma is also the title of a short film by Ken Russell included in the 1987 film Aria.[25] (Aria consists of ten segments by a variety of directors; each one features the director's visual accompaniment to arias and scenes from operas. The films have minimal or no dialogue, with most of the spoken content coming from the words of the aria itself.)

References

  1. ^ Puccini, Giacomo; Adami, G., & Simoni, R. (1978). "Act III, Scene I" (in English, Italian). Turandot. Opera Vocal Score Series. Milano, Italy: Ricordi. p. 291. OCLC 84595094. "None shall sleep tonight!" 
  2. ^ The libretto and score are © BMG Ricordi S.p.A.
  3. ^ Note: this article uses scientific pitch notation; e.g., B4 is the B above Middle C
  4. ^ 'Puccini scores' (musical and contextual analysis of 'Nessun Dorma'), National Review, July 23, 1990 (accessed 8 October 2007)
  5. ^ a b 'Nessun Dorma put football back on map' The Telegraph, September 7, 2007 (accessed 8 October 2007)
  6. ^ 'Pavarotti, Revered Even When Lip-Synching' The New York Times, April 7, 2008 (accessed 7 April 2008)
  7. ^ BBC News coverage of Pavarotti's final performance (accessed 8 October 2007); BBC News coverage of Pavarotti's funeral (accessed 8 October 2007)
  8. ^ Andrea Bocelli on stage with Chinese girl for Shanghai Expo, People's Daily Online, April 30 2010 article.
  9. ^ Giant indoor park opened for Kazakh president's birthday, The Daily Telegraph, July 5, 2010 article.
  10. ^ Pop and Jazz Guide, New York Times, May 24, 2002. Accessed 9 May 2008.
  11. ^ Rich Davis, These boots are made for... Line dancing isn't just for the Boot Scootin' Boogie Bunch, Evansville Courier & Press, December 20, 2005. Accessed via subscription 9 May 2008; World Line Dance Newsletter. Accessed 9 May 2008.
  12. ^ Choreography of Trust me!, Tulsa Shuffle Line Dance Club. Accessed 9 May 2008.
  13. ^ Scott Foppiano on The American Theatre Organ Society's website
  14. ^ Scott Foppiano on theatreorgancds.com
  15. ^ Antony & Lavazza
  16. ^ Perusse, Bernard, "Beck in a reflective mood", Ottawa Citizen, 17 April 2020
  17. ^ "Italia overview". Allmusic.com. http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:wnfqxzygldse. 
  18. ^ "Chris Botti". JazzMonthly.com. http://www.jazzmonthly.com/artist_ag/botti_chris/reviews/botti_review.html. 
  19. ^ a b Christopher Blank, High Note, Commercial Appeal, October 13, 2007. IMDB lists a total of 28 films, from 1942 to 2007, which include "Nessun dorma" (including two 3Tenors titles); see Giacomo Puccini
  20. ^ Stephen Holden, Eloquent Movies With Eloquent Soundtracks, New York Times, January 30, 1994
  21. ^ Soundtracks for New York Stories (1989).
  22. ^ Nelson Pressley, 'The Sea Inside': A Quest for Death, The Washington Post, December 17, 2004; Page C05
  23. ^ Gloria Goodale, 'Sum' signals change since 9/11, Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 2002
  24. ^ Jay Carr, Barbra Streisand looks into her 'Mirror' and discovers she's still a funny girl, Boston Globe, November 10, 1996. Retrieved via subscription 14 June 2008.
  25. ^ Richard Corliss, Opera for The Inoperative, Time Magazine, May 02, 1988.

External links


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