I have become obsessed in the last few days with "Nessun Dorma," an aria written by Puccini. It's led to a few things I feel worth noting:
1. Here's a clip of the unfortunately named Paul Potts performing the song on Britain's Got Talent. Paul does a lovely job, no question, but I show this to you to highlight the moment when Simon asks Paul what he's going to do for us this evening. "I'm going to sing opera," he says. Piers Morgan shoots the other panelists a look that says, "Opera?!? This silly little man thinks he can do opera! How amusingly droll." Ass.
2. I've been listening to different performances of it on Youtube, listening to as many different tenors as I could find. I've read all the comments, as people debate over who owns the best rendition. I've listened to Domingo, and Carreras, and Andrea Boccelli, and Mario Lanza. But none of them, for me, compared to Pavarotti. Watch him in this performance filmed in 1980. It is the way he hits those high notes, without a hint of struggle, soaring above the orchestration and into the heavens the song aims for. Watch his face, though, when the song is over; what I like most about this video is that, after that staggering performance, you can see in Pavarotti's smile that he's just as amazed by the whole thing as the rest of us.