When Luciano Pavarotti suddenly fell ill and was unable to sing Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” at the 1998 Grammys, Aretha Franklin filled in for him at “literally a moment’s notice” and sang an acclaimed rendition of the aria

Remembering when Aretha Franklin saved the 1998 Grammys with ‘Nessun Dorma’

We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to revisit quite possibly the greatest Grammy performance of all time as Aretha Franklin takes on the classic song ‘Nessun Dorma’ and brings the audience to its feet. The 1998 Grammy Awards, it’s safe to say, was arguably the most action-packed ceremony in the show’s long and illustrious history.

Shawn Colvin, Wu-Tang, LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood were all involved but one artist stole the show. That artist was, of course, Aretha Franklin. Introduced by Sting, Franklin would pick up the torch left behind by Pavarotti at “literally, a moment’s notice.”

When ‘Grammy Living Legend’ honoree Luciano Pavarotti contacted the show producers to release the damning news that he was too unwell t… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

6 thoughts on “When Luciano Pavarotti suddenly fell ill and was unable to sing Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” at the 1998 Grammys, Aretha Franklin filled in for him at “literally a moment’s notice” and sang an acclaimed rendition of the aria”

  1. Gorf_the_Magnificent

    She sang in Pavarotti’s key, which wasn’t naturally suited for her, so that the entire orchestra wouldn’t have to transpose at the last minute.

  2. twiggez-vous

    You know what, I’m going to go ahead and give a direct [link to the video](https://youtu.be/uHb75oTHOV4). Bringing Soul to Opera.

    As a counterpoint to this, here’s [Pavarotti and James Brown with It’s a Man’s World,](https://youtu.be/iCyLspVqrR4) bringing Opera to Soul.

    BTW it looks like Sting, who introduces Nessun Dorma, knows about the last minute change – he seems nervous. You can see him say a little prayer for Aretha.

  3. nachodog

    The 90s were so wild they had opera at the Grammys.

  4. MyNameIsRay

    Someone once told me, “An amateur practices until they can do it, a professional practices until they can’t do it wrong”.

    I guess a master practices so much that even unrehearsed, untested, unprepared, with a band and conductor they never met, and in a key they don’t use, they still can’t get it wrong.

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