Accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra, a British orchestra based in London, the British-Italian tenor Freddie De Tommaso sings Nessun Dorma, a very famous tenor aria from Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot. This performance is from a recording session for De Tommaso’s 2022 album “Il Tenore” (The Tenor). Conductor: Paolo Arrivabeni.
Puccini’s Nessun Dorma
Nessun Dorma is one of the best-known tenor arias in all operas. It is sung by Calaf, il principe ignoto (the unknown prince), who falls in love at first sight with the beautiful but cold Princess Turandot. However, any man who wishes to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles; if he fails, he will be beheaded.
Prince Calaf attempts the impossible.
Her first riddle is told:
“What is born each night and dies at dawn?“
Prince Calaf answers: “Hope!“. Correct.
Turandot, unaffected, asks her second riddle:
“What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire?”
Calaf is right again. No suitor has proceeded this far, ever. This time, the princess becomes unnerved. She asks her third riddle:
“What is like ice yet burns?“
Silence falls over the crowd. A few moments later, Prince Calaf shouts, “Turandot!” He is right again. The crowd cheers and congratulates Calaf, thankful his life was not lost and future lives were saved.
Nonetheless, the cruel princess recoils at the thought of marriage to him. She pleads with her father to spare her marriage to Prince Calaf, some stranger. Her father refuses. Prince Calaf, to appease the princess, offers her another chance by challenging her to guess his name by dawn.
(As he kneels before her, the Nessun Dorma theme makes a first appearance, to his words, “Il mio nome non sai!”) If she does so, she can execute him; but if she does not, she must marry him. The cruel and emotionally cold princess then decrees that none of her subjects shall sleep that night until his name is discovered. If they fail, all will be killed.
As the final act opens, it is now night. Calaf is alone in the moonlit palace gardens. In the distance, he hears Turandot’s heralds proclaiming her command. His aria begins with an echo of their cry and a reflection on Princess Turandot:
Nessun Dorma! Nessun Dorma!
Tu pure, o Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che tremano d’amore, e di speranza!
Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me;
il nome mio nessun saprà!
No, No! Sulla tua bocca
lo dirò quando la luce splenderà!
Ed il mio bacio scioglierà
il silenzio che ti fa mia!
None shall sleep! None shall sleep!
Even you, O Princess,
in your cold bedroom,
watch the stars
that tremble with love and with hope!
But my secret is hidden within me;
none will know my name!
No, no! On your mouth
I will say it when the light shines!
And my kiss will dissolve
the silence that makes you mine!
Just before the climactic end of the aria, a chorus of women is heard singing in the distance:
Il nome suo nessun saprà,
E noi dovrem, ahimè, morir, morir!
No one will know his name,
and we will have to, alas, die, die!
Calaf, now certain of victory, sings:
Dilegua, o notte!
Vanish, o night!
Fade, you stars!
Fade, you stars!
At dawn, I will win!
I will win! I will win!
Freddie De Tommaso
A phenomenal voice and talent in the tradition of the great Italian tenor voices, Freddie De Tommaso has captured widespread acclaim with headline-grabbing debuts and chart-topping album releases. The British-Italian tenor shot to fame in December 2021 when he jumped in as Cavaradossi in Royal Opera’s production of Tosca, thus becoming at the age of 28 the youngest ever tenor to perform the role on the iconic stage and the first Brit since 1963.
De Tommaso, who was due to perform the role at a later date took to the stage after the first interval when the tenor originally scheduled became unwell during the first of the three acts, prompting the press to unanimously declare that a new star was born.
An exclusive artist with Decca Classics and the first tenor to be signed to the label since 2007, his debut album Passione debuted at number 1 in the classical charts and won the BBC Music Magazine Award for Best Newcomer. In June 2022 his second album Il Tenore shot again straight to number 1 in the charts upon its release, whilst his rendition of Nessun Dorma, featured on the album, reached over one million streams.
The current season sees him continuing his meteoric rise with a triple appearance at Gran Teatre del Liceu as Riccardo Un Ballo in Maschera, Maurizio Adriana Lecouvreur, and in recital with Lise Davidsen; a double appearance with Orchestra di Teatro alla Scala and Riccardo Chailly for Verdi Requiem and Inno delle Nazioni and his role debuts as Pollione Norma in Naples and Adorno Simon Boccanegra at the Wiener Staatsoper.
Other engagements include Rodolfo La bohème in Berlin and Vienna and Pinkerton Madama Butterfly in Munich. In concert and recital, he sings Verdi Requiem at Teatro Regio di Parma; performs with Teatro di San Carlo Naples on tour to Festival de Pâques in Aix-en-Provence; with the Mannheim Philharmonic alongside Sonya Yoncheva; with Lise Davidsen at the Salzburg Easter Festival as well as solo recitals in the Czech Republic, Munich and Sofia.
Last season, De Tommaso was seen as Rodolfo La bohème and Cavaradossi at Royal Opera House; Rodolfo La bohème at Teatro alla Scala; Cavaradossi at Santa Fe Opera for his US debut; Don José Carmen, Alfredo Traviata and Cavaradossi at Arena di Verona; Macduff Macbeth Wiener Staatsoper; Alfredo La Traviata at Staatsoper Berlin and Bayerische Staatsoper; and at the Dutch National Opera with a staged production of Verdi Requiem.
His concert appearances included an open-air concert Opera for All in Munich alongside Sonya Yoncheva; the New Year’s Eve Concert at Teatro La Fenice in Venice; Tosca and Verdi Requiem at the Bergen International Festival and with the Orchestre National de Lyon; recitals at the Festival Castell Peralada; the opening concert of the Kissinger Sommer Festival and Verdi Requiem Verbier Festival.
Recent highlights include:
- Important company and role debuts at Teatro alla Scala as Maurizio in David McVicar’s production of Adriana Lecouvreur
- At the Wiener Staatsoper as Don José Carmen
- At the Bolshoi Theatre as Cavaradossi Tosca
- At Semperoper Dresden as Pinkerton in a new production of Madama Butterfly, a role he also reprised at the Royal Opera House together with the much coveted Cavaradossi in Tosca
- At Arena di Verona as Alfredo La Traviata
- Cassio Otello at the Royal Opera House under the baton of Sir Antonio Pappano
- Pinkerton, Macduff, Italian Singer, and Ismaele Nabucco all at the Wiener Staatsoper;
- Verdi Requiem at Teatro di Massimo di Palermo; Riccardo Un ballo in maschera at the Verbier Festival
- Excerpts of Carmen with Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria
- His return to Bayerische Staatsoper in their “Next Generation Talent” concert
- Ismaele with the Dutch National Opera.
After graduating from the Royal Academy of Music and subsequently the Opera Studio of Bayerische Staatsoper in 2019, De Tommaso burst onto the operatic scene as Cassio in Otello at the Royal Opera House and Ismaele in Nabucco with the Dutch National Opera. He then opened the 2020-21 season of the Wiener Staatsoper as Pinkerton with a new production of Madama Butterfly, aged 27. Engagements since including Tosca at the Bolshoi Theatre; Macduff, Ismaele, and the Italian Tenor at the Wiener Staatsoper.
- Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” [Peter Tiboris, Pan-European Philharmonia] - February 27, 2024
- Telemann: Concerto for Traverso and Recorder in E minor, TWV 52:e1 [Bremer Barockorchester] - February 26, 2024
- Rachmaninoff: The Bells [Kolokola] [Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Groot Omroepkoor, Karina Canellakis] - February 25, 2024