Read Nessun Dorma Lyrics and Get the Text Translation

Calaf's Aria from Puccini's Turandot

Luciano Pavarotti
Luciano Pavarotti performing the role of Calaf in Puccini’s "Turandot," at the San Francisco Opera House, 1977. Ron Scherl/Redferns/GettyImages

It's safe to say nearly everyone in the modern world is familiar with Giacomo Puccini's famous aria, "Nessun Dorma" from the opera, Turandot (read the synopsis of Turandot), thanks to the BBC's choice of Luciano Pavarotti's rendition as that year's theme song for their FIFA coverage. Though the music was unusual for a sporting event, especially one as large as FIFA, the aria's Italian heritage and lyrics were in perfect harmony with the sentiments of the athletes, fans, spectators, and everyone else involved with the world cup which took place in Italy.

With millions of people all over the world turning on their televisions and radios to watch and listen to the games, the aria and Luciano Pavarotti were catapulted into stardom seemingly overnight; "Nessun Dorma" has remained there ever since. (Learn why Pavarotti's performance of "Nessun Dorma" is so special.)

"Nessun Dorma" Context

You'll hear "Nessun Dorma" in the third act of Puccini's opera, Turandot. At the start of the opera, Calaf sees Princess Turandot for the first time and instantly falls in love with her. However, any man who wishes to marry her must correctly answer three riddles. Those who fail are killed. Despite protests from his father and his servant, Calaf accepts the challenge and is determined to marry the princess. 

Much to the delight of the princess's father as well as the entire kingdom, Calaf answers all three riddles correctly. Turandot realizes she must now marry a stranger and becomes upset.

Calaf makes a deal with her that if she can correctly answer his own riddle before dawn, he will die. If she does not answer correctly, he will marry her. Turandot agrees and the countdown begins.

Late that night, the princess declares that no one will sleep until she learns the name of her suitor. In fact, she cries out that everyone in the kingdom will be killed if no one steps forward to reveal Calaf's identity.

Meanwhile, Calaf confidently sings "Nessun Dorma" (Nobody shall sleep).

Italian Text

Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o, Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che tremano d'amore
e di speranza.
Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun saprà!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo dirò
quando la luce splenderà!
Ed il mio bacio scioglierà il silenzio
che ti fa mia!
(Il nome suo nessun saprà!...
e noi dovrem, ahime, morir!)
Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincerò!
vincerò, vincerò!

English Translation

Nobody shall sleep!...
Nobody shall sleep!
Even you, oh Princess,
in your cold room,
watch the stars,
that tremble with love and with hope.
But my secret is hidden within me,
my name no one shall know...
No!...No!...
On your mouth, I will tell it when the light shines.
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!...
(No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.)
Vanish, o night!
Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!

To learn more about "Nessun Dorma," including interesting facts, notable singers, and more, read the "Nessun Dorma" profile.