(Previously on In Bed With Amy Wilson: "What is art? Who knows! But it might be this song by Cher!")
At the Grammys in 1998, Aretha Franklin stepped in for the ill Luciano Pavarotti, who was scheduled to perform his signature aria (which was also a crossover pop hit/will be used in commercials till the world ceases to turn on its axis), "Nessun Dorma". TWENTY MINUTES BEFORE SHOWTIME. She had sung it in performance before but in this case had to maintain Pavarotti's arrangement (understandable when you look at how many PEOPLE were also on that stage, the number of people required to make a performance like this work).
Things I Love About This Video:
1. The way Sting introduces the situation with perfect affectionate aplomb and then steps aside and you can tell he is nervous for her.
2. EVERYONE is nervous for her. Look at how the conductor keeps looking at her (of course, he's also trying to keep the whole shebang from falling apart tempo-wise but still). When the chorus comes in on that part just before shit gets Really Real (don't know the operatic term for that moment), you can tell THEY are very nervous for her.
3. When she finishes she walks the wrong way off the stage. Someone has to point to tell her to head back toward Sting.
The song: Aretha Franklin, "Nessun Dorma"; 1998
You want to talk about beauty? about power? about the triumph of the human spirit? about, hell, TEAMWORK? (Those musicians did not wake up that day expecting to play with Aretha Franklin.)
You want to talk about transcendence? about music connecting people across times and cultures? about being electrified by what is in front of you?
Updated to add this other take on the performance: "Aretha Franklin and 'Nessun Dorma'" which has stellar points.
"Opera is popular music, music of the people — specifically, music of my
people. It’s the music of people with machine oil in their
thumbprints, of people who work at blue- and pink-collar jobs, people
who carry lunchpails to work and have toolchests in their dining rooms.
Opera is alive, and it’s not owned by people who use it to
elevate themselves above the common 'rabble' and who would fight to keep
it covered in dust. Opera must live, or it’s going to die, and in that
case it will deserve to.
If you love something, why on Earth would you wish to see it embalmed?"
Also see this scene in Moonstruck. See, it really does all come back to Cher!