Ever since he first performed it, Nessun Dorma became Pavarrotti’s signature tune. It’s hard to believe any other singer could do it justice, but American baritenor Michael Spyres has done just that. He appeared in a concert named Classic FM Live with Viking in an epic performance in London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The song comes from the final act of Puccini’s opera Turandot. For those who have never seen the opera, the lead character Calaf has fall head-over-heels in love with the stunning but cold-hearted Princess Turandot. To win her hand a potential suitor must answer three riddles correctly. To up the stakes, anyone who fails will be beheaded.
Nessun Dorma (Let No One Sleep) chronicles Calaf’s proud declaration that he will be successful in this challenge. It culminates with the word Vincerò! (I will win!) repeated three times, the third time is where the tenor holds the impressively long note as the climax of the song. Pavarotti’s power, beauty of tone and breath control made his performance exceptional so it is truly incredible that Michael Spyres could perform it equally well.
These sentiments are echoed by viewers on YouTube who praise Michael’s ability. One person exclaimed, ” Wow. Just extraordinary. No one has ever given a great rendition since the late Pavarotti …Until now. Beautiful. Shivers up my spine. Thank you.” Another commenter agreed saying, “Wow. How moving, how powerful. Felt that voice weaving itself into my bones as he sang. Must get his album because I think he’s one of the best tenors of his generation.”
The video has been viewed 113,000 times in nine days which is pretty impressive, and it seems certain that this figure will continue to rise steadily.
In case you were wondering what a baritenor is, it is a male singer who can sing in both the baritone and tenor ranges. This type of singer and singing was frequently used in Puccini’s operas which is why Michael, as a baritenor, can sing Nessun Dorma so well. It was often used for older noblemen as a contrast to the younger, more erratic characters who were performed by tenors. This contrast adds another element of expressiveness to the opera.
Michael Spyres certainly has a lot of experience in performing opera. Born to a musical family in Missouri in 1979, he studied singing at the prestigious conservatory University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria. Since graduation, he has made a name for himself in a number of roles and has performed an unbelievable eighty-three different parts across seventy-eight different operas.
Some of his most notable performances include Rossini’s Otello, Raoul in Les Huguenots, and the lead role in Mitridate, re di Ponto, an opera written by Mozart. He has also made more than twenty-five recordings of his performances. He spends the majority of the year working in Europe but still returns to his home in the Ozarks region of Missouri for a few months. If you’ve never heard of him, make sure to watch his videos now.