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Tonight's podcast is a tribute to Luciano Pavarotti, who passed away on September 6, 2007. We feature selections from Act 1 and Act 3 of Puccini's Turandot. The selection from Act 3 is the aria “Nessun dorma,” which was one of Pavarotti's signature pieces. You have probably heard it before. Below is one of his last performances of this piece, at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin:
We will have another related video treat for our readers and listeners this Wednesday.
These recordings were released on the Internet Archive, as part of a Creative Commons release.
A technical note: classical recordings tend to suffer more from the artifacts of MP3 encoding, and these recordings have been through the MP3 machine at least twice if not more. Those who want to hear a cleaner version are encouraged to check out the source version, or an original recording on CD.
Although the “Nessun dorma” might be more famous, I am fond of the selection from Act 1. It has a dark sound (in keeping with the rather morbid story line), and a very “modal” sound. In particular, there is the minor pattern that concludes this section:
This pattern, and indeed the generally “modal” nature of the music in this act, is presumably to give the music an “eastern” flavor, in keeping with the story of Turandot. However, it fits perfectly in with my own interests in more mainstream music, including my current fascination with old R&B and rock-and-roll from the 1950s and 1960s. One could see the above pattern, performed by the low strings of the orchestra, done by a string bass in an old jazz or R&B recording .
It is inspiring to find these sorts of connections between often disparate forms of music, and perhaps that is in itself a small tribute. Listening to, and paying respect to, one of the great modern opera talents, and having that lead to inspiration elsewhere…