Luciano Pavarotti thrust his name onto the worldwide stage with an enigmatic performance of Nessun Dorma at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. This classic aria comes from Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot, based on an earlier text by Carlo Gozzi. The opera remained unfinished at the time of Puccini's death in 1924 and was completed by Franco Alfano.
Turandot is Persian word meaning 'the daughter of Turan', this being a region of Central Asia formerly part of the Persian Empire. The story itself extends from a Persian fairytale from The Book of One Thousand and One Days about a Mongolese princess, turned into a "tigerish woman" of "unrelenting pride" by Gozzi's adaptation.
The famous aria Nessun Dorma is sung by the Prince who waits for dawn in anticipation of his victory at the beginning of the third act. Turandot herself both hates and loves this Prince, who reveals his ardent passion for her and, at the great finale, she gives way to her feelings for him.
To find out more about the history of opera in Italy, read our special article on the father of Neapolitan Opera.