Freddie De Tommaso breaks down what exactly makes ‘Nessun dorma’ the greatest aria of all

19 April 2024, 18:05

Freddie De Tommaso on what makes ‘Nessun dorma’ the greatest aria of all | Classic FM

By Kyle Macdonald

Today’s star tenor shares the magic of Puccini, and why these epic three-and-a-half minutes of music have become the world’s favourite opera aria.

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It can be found on an opera stage, on the football pitch as one of sport’s most iconic anthems, and in countless viral videos. There is no aria more recognisable, and very few pieces of classical music have had quite the same emotional impact.

For decades, Puccini’s ‘Nessun dorma’ has had a grip on millions, with its soaring melody, heart-thumping crescendos, and thrillingly high climax.

Many will still remember when Luciano Pavarotti brought it before the world at Italia 90, making it the unofficial anthem of the beautiful game.

Read more: The 10 best versions of ‘Nessun dorma’ – ranked!

An epic 'Nessun dorma' from opera star Michael Spyres at Classic FM Live | Classic FM

One of today’s great Puccini singers is the young British-Italian tenor Freddie De Tommaso. Freddie is currently hosting a special series devoted to opera and the music of his beloved Italy in ‘Notes from Italy’ – and music does not get much more iconically Italian than Puccini.

On a visit to Classic FM, we asked the 30-year-old singer about the enduring magic of this aria, and why it holds such a prized place for singers and audiences alike. Watch what he had to say above.

Freddie De Tommaso presents a new Classic FM series ‘Notes from Italy’
Freddie De Tommaso presents a new Classic FM series ‘Notes from Italy’. Picture: Classic FM

In his video, De Tommaso explores the setting of the aria in the operatic drama, how Puccini slowly and expertly conjures this heroic moment in music, and what it requires of the singer.

The tenor also shares a fun fact about the iconic high B note, on the climatic word ‘Vincerò’. Quite possibly the most famous note in all opera, it wasn’t actually written that way by the composer, who originally scored it as a shorter grace note.

De Tommaso’s expert analysis is interspersed with footage from his acclaimed recording of the aria, released on his 2022 Decca album Il Tenore. The release showcases the young singer in a range of Puccini scenes and arias, which was a former Classic FM Album of the Week in Alexander Armstrong’s mid-morning programme.

Hear ‘Notes from Italy’ with Freddie De Tommaso on Classic FM, Friday nights from 9-10pm – or catch up afterwards on Global Player.