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.
Image attribution: Artist unknown, 1926 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APoster_Turandot.jpg