Monday, September 10, 2007
No One Will Sleep
Here's an old clip of Pavarotti's take on Puccini's "Nessun Dorma," from Turandot.
The beauty and majesty of this aria cannot be overstated...
Musically, it starts on the ground and climbs and climbs and climbs until it reaches the heavens.
Pavarotti absolutely owned this aria; it's his signature piece. While it doesn't require particularly difficult scalular runs, it's the perfect showcase for his emotional genius. Watch as it unfolds; he's completely inside the music. He barely blinks his eyes.
After nailing his final, magnificent high B, watch his facial expressions. They communicate triumph, disorientation and ecstasy, all at the same time. He looks like a prize fighter that's scored a surprise 12th round knockout.
An opera singer attempting a piece like this is walking a tightrope. One lapse of concentration and you're screwed. Pavarotti always seemed to make it across the rope safely to the other side.
(Programming note: if you love this piece, you'll want to compare versions from other great tenors. For two of my favorites, check out the rich masculinity of Mario del Monaco's version, and for a different approach, Placido Domingo sings with incredible clarity in the high register, though he struggles a bit with the lower notes.)