Chris Botti — “Nessun Dorma” (from Italia) — Nessun

Puccini’s heart-shattering masterpiece is almost certainly the most revered recorded aria of the late Luciano Pavarotti’s career, and the astonishing Aretha Franklin stunned the whole damned world with her impromptu performance on the 1998 Grammy Awards telecast. But if you ask me, Botti’s take — entirely instrumental, yet teeming with rich emotion, with a simple trumpet standing in brilliantly for a standard tenor — is the most staggering, most wrenchingly gorgeous, most luminously alive version to be found.

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