Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot,The Ice Princess Turandot
"You tell me the performer who is the greater ?"
Pavarotti - Nessun Dorma
Paul Potts - Nessun Dorma
Giacomo Puccini's 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."Her father is forcing her to marry !"
In the act before this aria, Calaf has correctly answered the three riddles put to all of Princess Turandot's prospective suitors. Nevertheless, 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 is to 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!"
(English translation: "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!"
(English translation: "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!"
(English translation: "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!"
(English translation: "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!"
(English translation: "Vanish, o night! Set, stars! Set, stars! At daybreak I shall win! I shall win! I shall win!")
In performance, the final "Vincerò!" features a sustained B4, followed by the final note, an A4 sustained even longer, although Puccini's score did not explicitly specify that either note be sustained. These are two of the highest notes in the tenor range.
In Alfano's completion of Act 3, the 'Nessun Dorma' theme makes a final triumphal appearance at the end of the opera. The theme also makes a concluding reappearance in Berio's later completion (this having been an expressed intention of Puccini's) but in a more subdued orchestration.