Decca Invites Pavarotti Fans to Record Their Versions of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma"

By James Inverne on Sep 03, 2013 03:24 PM EDT

"Nessun Dorma" indeed--"none shall sleep"--in many opera-loving households this month, as Luciano Pavarotti's record company, Decca, marks 50 years since the late, great Italian tenor's international debut with a remarkable online contest. Plenty of fans will be wailing out would-be high notes in front of their PCs, phones and tablets. Think you can equal the big man's most famous aria, or just want to add your own version as tribute? Decca has given you the chance.

The competition provides the software for entrants to record and email their own versions of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma." The 50 best will each win a prize.

It was on September 21, 1963 that Pavarotti made his first major international opera appearance, and that same year-- aged 27--he also began his career with Decca. It was a label to which he remained loyal for his entire career, despite the odd spot of moonlighting elsewhere (such as a late Rigoletto on DG, for instance).

Calaf in Puccini's opera Turandot had long been one of Pavarotti's best roles by the time of the 1990 World Cup. But that contest saw him singing the Act III aria "Nessun Dorma" as an official anthem during the television coverage, and it caught the public imagination. A hit solidified at the now famous Three Tenors concert around the final of that same tournament, followed by its various incarnations.

The aria itself--and if we're being picky, it's wrong to call it an "aria" as, in the opera, Puccini lets it melt into the rest of the scene rather than pause for applause--refers to the edict by the ice princess Turandot, as her subjects must all spend the night seeking the answer to a mystery (the mysterious prince's name). It is in many ways a moment of solitary, dark reflection by a somewhat self-centred hero as he contemplates the death of mercilessness around him. Turandot, herself, pulls no punches when it comes to getting what she wants.

So, it's perhaps ironic that it is this aria of all of Puccini's arias that latterly became the iconic operatic tenor showpiece. And Pavarotti was at the heart of that process.

To enter, prepare your vocal chords, maybe gargle some warm water and honey and then click HERE.

Meanwhile, less than hardy family members and neighbors might want to invest in some earplugs. No offense.

And do watch this incredibly moving last public performance of the aria by the tenor, frail but unbowed at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin.

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TagsDecca, Pavarotti, Nessun Dorma, Turandot, Puccini, Verdi, Rigoletto, Deutsche Grammophon, Three Tenors, FIFA, World Cup, Winter Olympics, Turin

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