- Turandot, opera
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Turandot, Puccini's last opera, tells the tale of a mythical Chinese Ice Princess whose heart is melted by an ardent young suitor. Sopranos who tackle this hefty role must be fearless, and Joan Sutherland -- heard here at her peak -- certainly had the oomph to tackle the part. If Pavarotti had to be identified with a single aria, it would surely be "Nessun Dorma," sung in his role as Calaf, the insistent suitor. Other tenors, from Georges Thill to Jon Vickers, have made splendid recordings of the aria, but Luciano made it into the pop hit that it is today. All the more reason to hear it in context as the showstopper that it is. The sinuously soft notes of Montserrat Caballé as the slave girl, Liù, and Peter Pears as the venerable Emperor Altoum are added attractions. Conductor Zubin Mehta's taste for the spectacular is perfectly suited to Puccini's colorful score.