Translate Tuesday - Nessun Dorma

May I present to you a song made famous by football and Luciano Pavarotti, ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for 'Nessun dorma'!

As I'm a guy of a certain age, this song first came to my world in 1990, with Italia 90, the first FIFA World Cup that I truly watched. This song was used for the opening sequences of the football coverage by the BBC (video here) and even now, some 21 years later, I still get emotional when I hear it start.

The song, of course, had a life long before someone needed an Italian song for a football intro. It comes from Puccini's opera Turandot, which had it's first performance at La Scala in Milan in 1926. Pavarotti sang Nessun Dorma as one of "The Three Tenors" (along with Plácido Domingo and José Carreras) in their famed first concert held on the eve of the tournament's final match, added a certain level of class to proceedings that, in my opinion hasn't been matched since. The song has been quoted as 'intellectualizing football' in the UK, depicting it in an operatic fashion, rather than just 22 men running around a field. Pavarotti sang the song publicly for the last time at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, about a year and a half before his death in 2007.

The words are actually quite easy, but to quote a friend whose name I won't mention here, 'if in doubt, plagiarize', so this translation is courtesy of Wikipedia.

Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma! Tu pure, o Principessa, nella tua fredda stanza, guardi le stelle.. che tremano d'amore, e di speranza!

English translation: None shall sleep! None shall sleep! Even you, O Princess, in your cold bedroom, watch the stars.. that tremble with love and with hope!

Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me; il nome mio nessun saprà! No, No! Sulla tua bocca lo dirò quando la luce splenderà!

But my secret is hidden within me; none will know my name! No, no! On your mouth I will say it when the light shines!

Ed il mio bacio scioglierà il silenzio che ti fa mia!

And my kiss will dissolve the silence and make you mine!

Just before the climactic end of the aria, a chorus of women is heard singing in the distance: 

Il nome suo nessun saprà... E noi dovrem, ahimè, morir, morir!

No one will know his name... and we will have to, alas, die, die!

Calaf (Pavarotti in this instance), now certain of victory, sings: 

Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle! All'alba vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!

Vanish, O night! Set, stars! Set, stars! At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!

Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Perfect for the football as well, in my opinion :-)


  1. Pavarotti is still a great favourite in Italy, I have featured him on Sunday Song and this post has reminded me I should do so again. He has such an amazing voice.

  2. Yeah, he had such a great depth and range while still having a very distinctive voice.