The beautiful aria “Nessun dorma“ from the Puccini opera Turandot is a tenor aria. Puccini wrote this aria for the character Calaf, a character he wanted to be sung by a tenor. That’s the facts you cannot escape.
However, this aria has become a very popular piece and is now sung by others than tenors as well. Well, in concerts and on records, but not in productions of Turandot in the opera theatres. Imagine that!
For me “Nessun dorma” will always be a tenor aria and will for ever be associated with great tenor singing. As we all know, this was the signature aria for Pavarotti, and for many Pavarotti fans “Nessun dorma” could only be sung by him.
I can enjoy many other tenors singing this aria, but when it comes to others than tenors it becomes problematic. It’s not that I appreciate their serious artistic intentions, but for me “Nessun dorma” is a tenor aria, and other voices don’t quite do it for me.
It’s not that I want others than tenors to stop singing this aria, it’s just that I’m a tenor guy who loves tenors who sings tenor arias more than anything else. It’s just that simple!
In several comments on one of my recent blog posts I’ve been told that many female singers do sing this aria and that I should “keep an open mind and move into the 21st century”. So here we go! Odd Pavarotti shows an open mind and presents “Nessun dorma” sung by women!
First woman out is the American soul singer Aretha Franklin singing “Nessun dorma” from the Grammy Awards show in 1998. Pavarotti was in fact scheduled to sing this aria on this show, but had to cancel due to throat problems. However, the Queen of Soul stepped in on very short notice and sang this aria as never sung before!
Odd Pavarotti admits that this interpretation was very well done! In fact this performance was voted as one of the greatest rock’n roll moments of all time! Even Pavarotti himself liked it, it’s been said. This historic performance was issued on the Aretha Franklin album “Jewels in the Crown: Duets with the Queen of Soul“.
As an added bonus Odd Pavarotti presents the British singer Sarah Brightman in two virtual duets with Pavarotti singing “Nessun dorma”. In the second of these virtual duets the British violist Vanessa-Mae is also included. Odd Pavarotti admits that this isn’t his favorite cup of tea, but at least he’s keeping an open mind! Maybe my greatest problem is that I have problems with badly made virtual duets!