Sunday, May 22, 2011

Giacomo Puccini - Nessun dorma

Austin seems like the Tuscany of Texas.  Beautiful, rolling hill country.  Towns (well, houses) built on the hilltops, with farmland in the valleys in between.  Local wine that, while I haven't tried it yet, is from a climate that should produce something good.

When you think of Tuscany and classical music, you think of Puccini.  We're not quite to the point of "Puccini = Opera."  Not quite, but close.  His works include La Bohème, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, and Turandot, some of the most romantic operas ever written.

Nessun Dorma is from Turandot, Puccini's last - and actually unfinished - opera.  Puccini was stricken with throat cancer, and traveled to Brussels for a new experimental radiation therapy.  He never returned to Italy, or finished the Opera.  It seems that he knew his chances were slim, because he left a notebook explaining how to finish it, which Franco Alfano did.  Toscanini conducted the premiere, and stopped the performance at the point where Puccini's music ended saying, "This is where the maestro laid down his pen, but his followers finished is work."  The orchestra then resumed play.  Very romantic.

Jose Carreras has perhaps the greatest operatic tenor voice of our day.  While perhaps best known as the third of the "Three Tenors" (along with Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo), his voice has a purity which is unique.  Like Puccini, he was stricken with cancer (leukemia) ; unlike Puccini, he won his struggle, and nessun dorma became a theme song of sorts for him.  You see, the song ends with a determined - indeed triumphant - "Vincerò!" ("I will win").  Audiences interpreted this as a musical embodiment of the will to live.

Quite romantic all around, if you think about it.


libertyman said...

Ah, my Sunday morning music appreciation class, from the erudite Borepatch. Off to Amazon for some browsing to add to the collection.

Southern Belle said...

That is one of my favorite opera songs. It never fails to bring goose bumps to my flesh and tears in my eyes when sang so well.

Several years ago, a man named Paul Potts appeared on Britain's Got Talent. He sang that song and brought down the house.

Now, this guy, Jose Carreras, all I can say about him is wow.

Borepatch, you never cease to amaze me with your taste in music. Thank you for posting.

Borepatch said...

Thanks, guys. All I can say is that this is what - the fourth of these I've done? The music had BETTER be good! ;-)

Southern Belle said...

Honestly? I've grown accustomed to waking up on Sunday morning, turning on the computer and going straight to your blog to see what the morning music will be. It's always fantastic.

Paul, Dammit! said...

Southern Belle beat me to it- Paul Potts' story is wonderful, as is his voice- right up there with Mario Lanza being discovered while singing to himself whilst driving a bus.

Ode to Joy does edge Nessun Dorma out as my favorite- what does this say when fellow 2A enthusiasts seem to have the exact same tastes?