Nessun dorma

by Stefania Bufano

Torre del Lago Puccini

Torre del Lago Puccini

 

by Rich Brown

Nessun dorma,  No one sleeps.  I can’t argue with the people that tell me I don’t get enough sleep.  It’s true.  I do tend to burn the candle at both ends from time to time.  I’m not really an insomniac, I just have a lot of things to get done.  If every day had 36 hours, I probably still couldn’t get everything done.  I should give it a try on another planet. The astronomers say the day on the planet Mercury is equal to about 58 ½ Earth days.  That seems like enough time to work in a little nap here or there.

Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini

Nessun dorma, probably the most famous tenor aria in all of opera,  is from Puccini’s Turandot.  In the opera, suitors must answer three riddles to win the right to marry the beautiful but cold-hearted princess Turandot.  They ring a gong, take their shot at answering the questions, and they are beheaded if they get the answers wrong.  This is opera, so no one asks too many questions about why would anyone want to risk their life to marry a cold-hearted princess, no matter how beautiful. You just accept that idea and go on with the production.  Calaf (himself a prince in disguise), answers the questions correctly, and Turandot is furious, as she never had any intention of giving in to one of these suitors.  Calaf offers a deal. Since no one knows his name, if she can guess it before sunrise, he will allow himself to be put to death.  The order goes out that no one shall sleep until this suitor’s name is discovered.  Calaf, confident of his victory, sings Nessun dorma, the most famous of tenor arias.  The words in English translation:

 

Nobody shall sleep!

Nobody shall sleep!

Even you, o Princess,

in your cold room,

watch the stars,

that tremble with love and with hope.

But my secret is hidden within me,

my name no one shall know…

No!…No!…

On your mouth I will tell it when the light shines.

And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!…

(No one will know his name and we must, alas, die)

Vanish, o night!

Set, stars! Set, stars!

At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!

 

The superstar tenor Luciano Pavarotti made this aria one of his signature numbers. His career brought operatic arias to millions of people whom otherwise might never have listened to this music.  His success gave many arias lives of their own, separate from the operas in which they were sung.

 

Nessun dorma

 

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Good Music Speaks is a blog about music, whatever music I happen to be listening to at the time I’m writing. We have more access to music than at any other time in history. People carry thousands of songs around on their phone or iPod. There is also internet radio, satellite radio, FM radio, music in the concert hall, club, bar, elevator, dentist’s office and from the guy in the car next to me damaging his hearing with his radio up way too loud. There is music in the background we are hardly aware of, music in commercials, music we dance to, eat to, sleep to and finally music to which we give our full undivided attention […].

 

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Il principe ignoto

Nessun dorma! Nessun Dorma! Tu pure, o Principessa,

nella tua fredda stanza

guardi le stelle

che tremano d’amore e di speranza…

Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me,

il nome mio nessun saprà!

No, no, sulla tua bocca lo dirò,

quando la luce splenderà!

Ed il mio bacio scioglierà il silenzio

che ti fa mia.

 

Voci di donne (le stelle)

Il nome suo nessun saprà…

E noi dovrem, ahimè, morir, morir!

 

Il principe ignoto

Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle!

Tramontate, stelle! All’alba vincerò!

 

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Puccini at Torre del Lago

Museo Villa Puccini

Torre del Lago Puccini (in Italian)

 

 

 

 

 

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