Luciano Pavarotti, one of the greatest tenors of all time, with his signature outstretched arms and white handkerchief.
Today is Valentine’s Day, which had us thinking about some of our favourite music with love or romance as a theme. Our last two choices are right here!
Have you ever seen the Love Duet from Act II of Swan Lake, by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky? This is about as good as it gets: this pas de deux with Odette and Prince Siegfried as danced by ballet superstars Natalia Makarova and Ivan Nagy, with guest violinist Itzhak Perlman and cellist Lynn Harrell. This excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake depicts the swan Odile and Prince Siegfried falling in love. (Check out Makarova’s arms – bendy.)
Then there’s “Nessun dorma” from Turandot, by Giacomo Puccini. In 1994, tenors Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Opera Chorus, lead by Zubin Mehta. This historic event was recorded as “The Three Tenors”. “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot is, in terms of musical impact, one of the most emotionally fraught arias ever written. The impact is as powerful as love itself, if not more so. Pavarotti was forever associated with this aria since singing it at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. Not everyone agrees that Pavarotti is the best singer of this, though there’s no question he had a pure, Italian “bel canto” sound, and unbelievable charisma. (Endearing is his big smile after the orchestra’s last note, and the waving around of the giant white hanky.)
None shall sleep,
None shall sleep!
Even you, oh Princess,
In your cold room,
Watch the stars,
That tremble with love
And with hope.
But my secret is hidden within me,
My name no one shall know,
On your mouth, I will tell it,
When the light shines.
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!
(No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.)
Vanish, o night!
Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win!
I will win!
I will win!
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at the New Classical FM!