I’ve been listening to a the Three Tenors concert in 1990 a lot recently, a concert that has been written into music legend. José Carreras, probably my favourite tenor, always personifies romance with a kind of sweetness to his voice; Plácido Domingo, whose dark tones compliment his powerful stage presence; and of course, Luciano Pavarotti, who’s powerful voice and heroic brilliance is unmatched.
Here is, in my opinion, the greatest rendition of “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, sung by Pavarotti in Los Angeles in 1994.
What makes this performance special is not only Pavarotti’s voice, but also his understanding of what he is singing. In the Opera, the hereo Calaf, who has just won the right to marry icy-cold Princess Turandot, has given her the challange that if she can discover his name before the break of day, he will submit his head to the executioner. But none in the city knows his name. Therefore the Princess orders the execution of the entire Palace staff if his name is not discovered by daybreak. Nessun Dorma means “None shall sleep”.
None shall sleep! None shall sleep! Even you, O Princess, in your cold bedroom, watch the stars.. that tremble with love and with hope!
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!
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!
Vanish O Night! Fall away Stars! Fall away Stars! At sunrise, I shall win! I shall win! I shall win!