When I make the next-to-the-last turn on my drive to work, just as I pass out of the next-to-the-last school zone, I push play on my phone playlist. I’ve already set up the song and I know it will take me right up to the turn into the school drive.
Unfamiliar with opera, I looked up the story (Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot) and the meaning of the words of the song. Great story, but that’s beside the point.
I watched a video of Pavarotti performing it once. It was “just” a concert, not a performance of the opera. Pavarotti was standing at a mic, the orchestra behind him, so the visual wasn’t very dramatic or moving. Until the last line.
“”Vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!” (“I will win! I will win! I will win!”)
The look on his face… a desperation, his eyes at once massively determined yet terrified.
But the real treasure is the last two notes. That last “-cerò!” Even by tenor standards, these are high notes, the first higher than the second, held long and clear before dropping down to the powerful finish.
I have yet to hear that transition from one note to the last without closing my eyes. Hence the careful planning of the timing of the song since closing my eyes while driving does not allow for optimum safety. But the beauty and the power of it just doesn’t allow for normal, open-eyed listening.
And then I picture his face and I hear the translation: “I will win!” and I feel it coming and once again I’m crying.
I’m fairly certain Puccini didn’t anticipate a middle-aged woman finding heart-wrenching spiritual implications in his aria. But there is great God Stuff to be had in this piece.
It’s been a tough week. A tough tough week. I’m tired. For the last two nights, I didn’t even make it to the pillows and fell asleep sitting up with the light on. My bum foot hurts, my blood sugar has dropped scary low a few times, and the stress level is so high I practically ran screaming from a business call yesterday and I swear if Neil Diamond himself called me, I’d let it go to voicemail.
This week, Nessun Dorma has been a medicinal necessity.
I let Pavarotti sing me in each day, the opening lines mellow and almost haunting, the interval of women’s voices in the distance signaling the big finish. And I prepare myself.
I will win. The first word starts the build-up of intensity and I feel a rush starting in my spirit – that mysteriously delicious Christmas morning feeling of knowing what’s coming and yet being almost nervous with anticipation as if it was first-time new.
I realize on the second word that he’s singing for me too. I will win. Or rather, I have already won – by depending on the One Who has won for me. And yet, I have to actually and really, physically and emotionally, get through this day. I have to muck through this depression, rise above this stress, face the physical difficulties.
The last word explodes… with Those Notes… and all his anguish and hope is translated in my soul and my heart as faith and assurance and I rise with him above everything else and in my mind I hear, “I will win! I will win!”
And I start to cry. Because I know it’s true.
I pull into my parking space, wipe my eyes, and step out into my day, already victorious.
Bravo, Pavarotti, and bravissimo, Abba.