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Saturday, January 9

Pundita Improv: Nessun Dorma

Turandot, cruel as fate, terrible as war, even Puccini didn't survive writing about her, but then another finished the tale.....

The Drifter

The Waiter

The Mobile Phone Salesman 

The Child 

It was announced that the blind opera tenor Andrea Bocelli and some friends in the music world would give a free concert in New York City in the Great Lawn of Central Park, one of  the most beautiful outdoor venues in the world, on September 15, 2011. PBS announced it would provide live television coverage of the event, to be broadcast nationally and in Canada. But how many would turn out? The tickets were snapped up within a few hours of the announcement. Then -- bad luck, it rained for the event. Only the stage provided cover. Attendees wore rain parkas or stoically sat unshielded in the pouring rain. 

Then the rain stopped, the clouds cleared, the stars shone on the trees in the park and the moon rose, and the song the audience had patiently waited for finally arrived. Andrea began to sing again. He was accompanied by the magnificent New York Philharmonic and Westminster Symphonic Choir, and the magnificent audience. 

From 70,000 throats of New Yorkers arose the chorus of Nessun Dorma as the camera panned the audience singing.

The voices rose in triumph. It was -- it was the most emotional moment. I stood in front of the television, the tears I had refused to shed on September 11, 2001 streaming down my face, as my voice joined the others. 

And just like that, the sorrow of 9/11 let go of my heart. 

Pavarotti at the Metropolitan Opera House, accompanied only by piano
In my town in Italy, he once said, everyone sings  

Luciano Pavarotti popularized Nessun dorma with audiences outside opera. The aria is from Turandot by Giacomo Puccini and Franco Alfano, who completed the opera after Puccini's death in 1924; it was first performed in 1926

The story of the aria and the lyrics:

(Wikipedia) "Nessun dorma" (Italian: [nesˈsun ˈdɔrma]; English: "None shall sleep") is an aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's frequently performed opera Turandot and is one of the best-known tenor arias in all opera. It is sung by Calaf, il principe ignoto (the unknown prince), who falls in love at first sight with the beautiful but cold Princess Turandot. However, any man who wishes to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles; if he fails, he will be beheaded. In the aria, Calaf expresses his triumphant assurance that he will win the princess.

In the act before this aria, Calaf has correctly answered the three riddles put to all of Princess Turandot's prospective suitors. Nonetheless, she recoils at the thought of marriage to him. Calaf offers her another chance by challenging her to guess his name by dawn. (As he kneels before her, the Nessun dorma theme makes a first appearance, to his words, "Il mio nome non sai!") If she does so, she can execute him; but if she does not, she must marry him. The cruel and emotionally cold princess then decrees that none of her subjects shall sleep that night until his name is discovered. If they fail, all will be killed.

As the final act opens, it is now night. Calaf is alone in the moonlit palace gardens. In the distance, he hears Turandot's heralds proclaiming her command. His aria begins with an echo of their cry and a reflection on Princess Turandot:
Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che tremano d'amore, e di speranza!
None shall sleep! None shall sleep!
Even you, O Princess,
in your cold bedroom,
watch the stars
that tremble with love and with hope!
Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me;
il nome mio nessun saprà!
No, No! Sulla tua bocca
lo dirò quando la luce splenderà!
But my secret is hidden within me;
none will know my name!
No, no! On your mouth
I will say it when the light shines!
Ed il mio bacio scioglierà
il silenzio che ti fa mia!
And my kiss will dissolve
the silence that makes you mine!
Just before the climactic end of the aria, a chorus of women is heard singing in the distance:
Il nome suo nessun saprà,
E noi dovrem, ahimè, morir, morir!
No one will know his name,
and we will have to, alas, die, die!
Calaf, now certain of victory, sings:
Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincerò!
Vincerò! Vincerò!
Vanish, o night!
Fade, you stars!
Fade, you stars!
At dawn, I will win!
I will win! I will win!
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