Some songs do live forever … or at least in human terms. It’s surprising how many of them come from opera.
Of all operatic arias, the one that truly escaped the clutches of the aficionado, and became a popular favourite, was Puccini’s dramatic song from Turandot, Nessun Dorma.
Although it has remained a classic of “easy listening” radio, it achieved pop status by being the theme for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when it was memorably sung by Luciano Pavarotti, still in his pomp. It has also appeared in modern films, like Toys, The Witches of Eastwick, and an array of others.
The aria translates as, “And None Shall Sleep”. It was part of Giancomo Puccini’s last opera, Turandot, which remained unfinished. It was premiered in 1926 at La Scala, Milan.
Puccini nearly died in a car crash in 1904 as a result of his passion for fast cars. He had already completed the works by which he is best known : La Boheme, Tosca and Madame Butterfly.
Nessun Dorma is from the final act of Turandot. Other parts were in sketch form only and were completed by composer, Franco Alfano.
Puccini was fighting throat cancer, caused by heavy cigar smoking, while writing Turandot. Despite the use of radiotherapy — then a new technique — Puccini died of a heart attack from complications on November 29, 1924.
His work lives on, however, and Nessun Dorma is being played somewhere on the world’s radio stations round the clock.