Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Nessun Dorma:  Brilliant and Surprising Performances



Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot was sung in Philadelphia at an event for the recent papal visit.  What is unusual is that it was sung by Aretha Franklin.  But this was not the first time she had performed the aria.

In 1998 Aretha Franklin stepped in at the last minute for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammy Awards and performed a surprising and soulful rendition.

Nessun Dorma has been performed by scores of soloists, and a perusal of YouTube will yield a variety of renditions, from the sublime to the unconventional (here I’m thinking of Marc Martel’s remarkable dual impersonation of Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury).

Here are some highlights to consider: one of any number of performances by Pavarotti; Aretha Franklin’s 1998 performance at the Grammys, one by 1950s heartthrob Mario Lanza from the movie Serenade, and a recent performance by Jonas Kaufmann, who just released a Puccini album (spectacular! and see the NPR review here).

Beautiful.  Seeming perfection.  Makes you wonder, do these guys ever mess up?

Well, they’re pros, so it’s rare, but they’re human, so it happens.

How about from the stage of La Scala?

Watch how Jonas Kaufmann handles it with humor and style.  I found out that this was an encore–one of five–during a 40 minute ovation after a Puccini recital at La Scala.

Vincerò indeed!


Image attribution: Artist unknown, 1926 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


6 thoughts on “Nessun Dorma:  Brilliant and Surprising Performances

  1. Oh, my. Aretha Franklin. What to do when you are singing a different type of style? You prevail.


  2. I liked Marc Martel’s version best (I’m sure you’re not surprised). I’m thinking of doing my beard/mustache like that 🙂


  3. Kaufmann carries it off with class and humor- good for him. And a pretty wonderful voice too. Great model of low tongue and using the palate and lips too! His E lucevan le stelle is very good too.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I find myself liking most of all, Mario Lanza. Until a few days ago, he was a pair of words floating in my memory. Were he alive today… well, that’s a mouthful. Dead at 38. It keeps happening and will no doubt into all the future. The persons who leave a deep imprint upon us are seldom around long enough for us to let them know the difference they make.

    In a world of endless space and endless time we are some breaths, not more. But in the breaths the eternities backward and forward are squeezed together.

    This blog of yours is a simple thing, but precious because of that.

    Nessun dorma is now etched into my head, too.


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