The hilarious Goons dominated British radio comedy in the 1950's, made up of Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, and Harry Sercombe. Sercombe, whose vocal gymnastics and wonderful humor was infectious, additionally possessed a wonderful tenor voice. This is evident in this recording above of “Nessun Dorma” from Giacomo Puccini's opera, Turandot.The aria "Nessun Dorma" which occurs in the third act, shot up in popular appeal became it became the theme song of Pavarotti’s’ rendition to support the vivid imagery of the world cup. The aria has since remained a favourite ever since in the publics’ eyes.
Puccini's interest was first sparked by his reading of Friedrich Schiller's 1801 adaptation of a play based on the works of the romantic Persian poet Nizami of the 12th-century.The story is set in China where Prince Calaf falls in love with the cruel Princess Turandot. But any man claiming the princesses’ hand in marriage must firstly answer correctly three riddles, with death the penalty for failure. Calaf accepts the challenge and subsequently to the delight of her father and the kingdom answers all 3 riddles correctly. Princess Turandot however is upset she is now forced to marry a stranger. Calaf agrees if she can correctly answer his own riddle before dawn, he will die. But if she is unable to answer correctly, he will marry her.
But the princess says she will not sleep until she finds out the name of her suitor. She announces everyone in the kingdom will be killed if no one steps forward to reveal Calaf's identity. Calaf then sings "Nessun Dorma" (Nobody shall sleep).Italian Text
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!
(Il nome suo nessun saprà!...
e noi dovrem, ahime, morir!)
Dilegua, o notte!
Nobody shall sleep!...
Nobody 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!
Puccini began composing this work in 1921 but died of a heart attack in 1924 before it could be completed. The Opera however was completed from the remaining 36 pages of sketches on 23 sheets of music, leaving the matter of a conclusion open to interpretation. Hence various endings were written until a shortened version inclusive of a happy ending ensued which are usually performed today. But Puccini may not have really believed in a happy ending, since many of his prior operas were inclined to tragic endings.