With the death of Luciano Pavarotti, I found myself wondering how it was that he became such a huge crossover success. The answer? Soccer. In 1990, the BBC selected Pavarotti’s version of the Puccini aria “Nessun Dorma” as the theme song for its coverage of the FIFA World Cup. The song was a perfect fit for the games in Italy not just because of its dramatic beauty, but also because it climaxes with the Italian word “Vincerò!” (meaning “I will win!”) on the highest note. In addition, the 1990 World Cup also saw the debut of The Three Tenors, an opera all-star team featuring Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and José Carreras. The result was a popular renaissance for opera and an unprecedented level of superstardom for Pavarotti. If you’re a fan of soccer, opera or brilliant marketing decisions, be sure to read the BBC’s firsthand account of how “Nessun Dorma” was selected as the theme. And if you want to see a cultural shift happen in front of your eyes, watch this legendary performance on the eve of the 1990 World Cup.
—Posted by David Griner