One of the most spectacular tenor arias in the operatic repertory is Puccini’s “Nessun dorma.”
The piece reaches an astronomically high top B during the conclusion of the work, making it one of the most impressive tenor arias ever written. When Luciano Pavarotti sang the piece during the 1990 FIFA Globe Cup, he captivated an audience from all over the world and introduced a large number of football fans to the art form of opera.
As a result, the aria gained widespread popularity far beyond the realm of classical music.
Following his ascent to popular success, the Italian opera singer was subsequently scheduled for a multitude of high-profile events all around the globe. One of these high-profile events was a performance at the 1998 Grammy Awards, which took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
The event was scheduled to take place on February 25, and Pavarotti was scheduled to perform his signature aria as the show’s lead act. However, the day before the ceremony, Pavarotti contacted the awards to let them know that he would not be able to sing that evening.
Aretha Franklin, known as the Queen of Soul and a close friend of Pavarotti, was contacted by producer Ken Ehrlich about taking up the role of the iconic show-stopping singer when the showrunners were in a state of fear about who should replace Pavarotti.
The equally renowned musician accepted, and as a result, the audience was treated to a performance that was so breathtaking that it prompted standing ovations from everyone in the room.
Because Ehrlich had already seen Franklin sing the famous Puccini aria at a MusiCares dinner two nights before the award event in honor to Pavarotti, he felt secure in inviting the Queen of Soul to jump in at a moment’s notice.
The end product was an extraordinarily touching performance that would forever be remembered in the chronicles of award ceremony history.
Sting, a member of The Police and a musician from England, was the one who presented Aretha Franklin on stage. Afterwards, he invited the soul singer to join him on stage to make the announcement that Luciano Pavarotti would be receiving the “Grammy Legend Award”; this was an honor that Franklin had previously been given seven years earlier.
Sting remarked on stage at the awards show, “Luciano, I know you’re at home cheering for Aretha, applauding silently but cheering nevertheless.”
“There is no one more worthy of this honor than you, and the whole world is a better place as a result of the good fortune that has afforded us the opportunity to share it with you,” the speaker said.