I write this blog post as very much a non-connoisseur of the operatic genre. In fact, I’m not really a connoisseur of any musical genre. I like pretty much all types, with a tendency towards the mainstream, non-fringe, anodyne even.

Like most people in their mid-twenties when the Italia ’90 World Cup was on, I had never heard Nessun Dorma. My Dad was fluent in Italian, lived there, and would occasionally regale us with the first couple of lines from Verdi’s La Donna è Mobile. That was about the extent of my exposure to opera, except for a couple of very long evenings in the company of the English or Welsh National Opera for performances without a single song of note or recall.

The BBC chose Nessun Dorma as their theme tune for the event and catapulted Mr Pavarotti from serious fame to truly global renown. It may have helped the rise to prominence of the The Three Tenors, and countless other countries’ versions, but I’m not sure of the causality of that. Every time I come across his version of Puccini’s masterpiece on youtube or social media, I know that I will lose an ill-defined number of minutes watching various different recordings, all of them still spine-tinglingly good.

Other opera stars have sung this top 5 all-time favourite song of mine, but even to my untutored ear they don’t come close to the richness and depth of Signor Pav. You feel yourself lift off the chair as he moves to the massive tidal wave crescendo of Vincerò! So much charisma, so much presence, so memorable, even down to the obligatory white towel.

Don’t take my word for it, here’s one of the better recordings of the great man at work. I feel sure it will lift your spirits, at least for a while.

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