How to sing 'Nessun dorma' – a handy YouTube tutorial

Gramophone Fri 29th May 2015

Do you harbour a secret passion to belt out Puccini's famous aria? Let our 10-lesson plan show you the way...

Lesson 1: Learn from the best

It's time to face the truth. Let's admit that we all have a secret passion to plant both feet on the stage at the Royal Opera House and belt out the world's most famous opera aria, 'Nessun dorma' from Puccini's Turandot. The following 10-lesson plan will take you step-by-step through the process of mastering this operatic showstopper. So, first up, let's see what we can learn from the most famous exponent of the aria – Luciano Pavarotti. Be warned, you may feel after watching this video that you can't possibly muster the vocal resources to compete with Luciano, but stay with it, Lesson 2 will restore your battered confidence.

Lesson 2: A lack of training is no obstacle

Concerned that you don't have sufficient training or technique? Worry not. As Ant (or Dec) explain at the start of the next film, Paul Potts was working in a phone shop when he found worldwide fame for singing 'Nessun dorma' on UK television. This video has had more than 136,000,000 views on YouTube. Which says a lot for the power of music. And Simon Cowell.

Lesson 3: A lack of technique is no obstacle

Still worried that you lack Luciano's technical prowess? Well here's another confidence boost for you. Here is proof positive that you don't need any technique whatsoever to sing along. You don't even need to be human. Note the brief moment at 42 seconds when Lucy actually gets the rhythm and pitch correct. It's both magical and, if I'm honest, a little bit harrowing.

Lesson 4: Sing with friends

If you feel a bit self-conscious belting out 'Nessun dorma' alone, why not invite a couple of friends to join you? That's what André Rieu has done. And it worked for him. Didn't it?

Lesson 5: Make it your own

Why bother trying to sing it like Pavarotti when Pavarotti has already done it? Sing it your own way. Like Aretha Franklin: 

Lesson 6: Rest your voice

Remember that although practice makes perfect, too much practice could damage your blossoming voice. So when the vocal cords need a rest why not play the tune on a musical instrument? Recorder, flute, bassoon, whatever you fancy. Electric guitar, even...

Lesson 7: Get in character

So now you've rested your voice you may now be finding it hard to get back into the swing of things. Why not do as Franco Corelli has done and make your own costume? Corelli also shows that you don't need to go out and buy fabric for your costume when your lounge curtains will do just as nicely. Clever and thrifty.

Lesson 8: Book the Albert Hall

Now you've mastered 'Nessun dorma' in your living room it is time to show the world you talent. Follow Michael Bolton's example and book the Albert Hall. If you've followed all of the previous steps in this guide you are sure to fill the hall with clamouring fans. Like Michael Bolton. 

Lesson 9: Rethink booking the Albert Hall

OK. So the Albert Hall thing didn't work out. Nobody showed up and now your pride is a bit dented. (And, though I don't want to panic you, how are you going to pay back that deposit?) Worry not, simply sing to a smaller audience. Just like Richard Tucker, who performs before a rapturous throng of at least nine people in this film:

Lesson 10: Learn from the best

So singing 'Nessun dorma' for a few gathered friends and family at home was yet another crushing disappointment. You were great, of course, but the audience reaction was muted, and a little bemused. Restore your faith in Puccini's genius by watching the greatest in action... By the way, you haven't given up the day job, have you? Don't give up the day job. 

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