Nessun Dorma

June 17, 2007

What on earth is the Nessun Dorma? We all associate it with the 1990 World Cup when Pavarotti sang it. But with Paul Potts singing it last week to get our attention I wondered what the story behind it really was. There you go, my Opera roots revealed to be as shallow as those of a stream side willow!

Turns out it is an aria from a Puccini opera titled Turandot. The “Classical Music: The Rough Guide” tells me it is a “disturbing example of Puccini’s affection for violence against women.”

Turandot is an evil Princess. Resident of Peking no less. During legendary times (that is such a cute piece of authorial licence aimed at defusing offence). She announces she will marry the first man who can answer three riddles. Fail the Q&A session and its off with your head. A besotted Calaf, who does not reveal he is a prince, is in the crowd watching the execution of one of the unfortunate quiz contestants. He thinks he is up for the quiz and answers the questions which puts Turandot’s nose out of joint. Calaf is a gentleman, even if a stupid one, and suggests he will submit to execution if Turandot can guess his name by dawn (shades of Rumplestiltskin).

Turandot puts the wheels of government into motion overnight and starts mass executions to tempt someone to give up Calaf’s name. Turns out Calaf has a lady admirer who kills herself rather than give up Calaf’s name. Calaf gives up and confesses not only his name but his love for Turandot, who then falls in love with Calaf. Go figure.

Convinced? No, I am not either really. Nor is my Rough Guide which advises “the sadism of the opera might leave you with a bitter aftertaste”. I think I will stick with travel. Enough sadism in the design and layout of cattle class seats at the back of the plane for me to sate any idle interest I might have in that subject.

Paul Potts Wins

June 17, 2007

It has been a meteoric rise for Paul Potts, the Welsh cell phone salesman with the dodgy teeth. Last night he won the talent contest (Britains Got Talent) in which he caught everyone’s imagination (and emotion) when he sang Nessun Dorma. Video clip here. There has been a lot of churlish stuff out there about how he does not measure up to the greats (it is easier to tear down that to build up, after all). But my sentiment about seeing an underdog get up still stands. And I love his win all the more for his:

  • modesty,
  • appreciation of the public support,
  • apparent genuine surprise at the public support
  • ignoring the disbelief of the judges, though he could see it in their faces (and we could see the hurt in his),
  • lack of pretension
  • complete lack of any pop idol imagery, preening, or strutting,
  • lack of any sense that the world owes him anything (item above refers),
  • having a go,
  • ignoring any post performance detractors,
  • ability to evoke all that emotion in the audience, and the rest of us,
  • loving the ride (the bus (on a rollercoaster) he does not want to get off),
  • his surprise at the results in each three “sing-offs”
  • hangdog face (behind which I suspect he has long learned to mask what he really thinks and feels), and
  • his new-found appointment to sing before the Queen.

Its all good and I feel very pleased for him. Bizarre isn’t it – all the way around the other side of the world, of a nationality we Australians just love to beat in anything in which we are competing, and he is getting this response. The internet is a great lesson in how our humanity is connected, even at emotional levels – not just via our computers. Good on you Paul.

Paul Potts – Cell Phone Salesman The Next Pavarotti

June 15, 2007

This week we watched (thanks to YouTube) an amazing performance by Paul Potts in a British talent quest, a performance that had many of us in the office in tears. It is a moving effort. But what I love about this song is his complete overturning of a cynical, even hostile judging panel. OK, they are paid to insert some drama into these things. But watch them sit slack jawed as he sings his Operatic piece. Watch the rolled eyes and sense the disbelief when he tells them he is going to sing opera. Then watch their transformation. There is something else I enjoy about this as well – Paul Potts, insofar as anyone can tell through the filter of the media, is a pretty unassuming guy. He has zero tickets on himself, seems like a thoroughly nice guy and just gets up there and lets rip. And for a chap who seems to have had bit of a rough run at life this is a nice turn around for him. Watch the audience in tears and then on their feet as they recognise what they are seeing and hearing. It always warms the heart to see an underdog win.

Watch it yourself and let me know your reaction. Once you have cleared the tears.

By the way, he went on and won the semifinal tonight.