None shall sleep!
September 12, 2006 6:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I pronounce 'principessa'?

As in:

Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!/Tu pure, o, Principessa

I've tried listening to the song, but I can't quite get it right.
posted by oxford blue to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
Best answer: preen-chee-paysa.

I'll let someone with more Italian skills say where the stressed syllable is. I always seem to get that wrong.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 6:39 PM on September 12, 2006

Best answer: Preen-chee- PAYS- sa.
posted by puddinghead at 6:42 PM on September 12, 2006

Bon giorno, principessa.
posted by agropyron at 6:45 PM on September 12, 2006

Response by poster: Strangely the almighty and omnipotent work firewall thinks youtube isn't an appropriate work resource.

Thank you for your answers! I'm well on the way of winning Turandot's heart now.
posted by oxford blue at 6:53 PM on September 12, 2006

when i saw this question i immediately thought of that song.
it's my ringtone!
posted by amethysts at 7:10 PM on September 12, 2006

Best answer: Accent is on the the third syllable.

Pronounced preen-chee-PAYSS-sah

though, note this about the vowels:

the "ee" should be about halfway between "bee" and "hit." In other words, the first syllable sounds almost like "prince" in English, but imagine it with an Italian accent.

Same with "chee" - halfway between "cheese" and "chip."

Now the accented syllable. That "ay" should be almost like "face," but not quite as wide open. It's actually closer to the sound you would make if you said, "Eh, what did you say?"

Now the part that will really make you sound Italian. The "ss" is a doubled consonant, so you have to pronounce the sound twice. In other words, instead of saying it as in "hassle" it's actually more like "less soap" -- without a pause between the two "s" sounds. (Notice that you will do the same thing on the first word of the aria "Nessun.")

I rarely recommend Pavarotti recordings, but if you can find a fairly early performance of this aria by the Pav, it's the one to listen to for diction -- his Italian is just about perfect, particularly as concerns the "in between" vowels and the doubled consonants. Come to think of it, I did a podcast of Turandot with Pavarotti a few months ago -- the direct link to listen to the third act is here.
posted by La Cieca at 8:32 PM on September 12, 2006

Pavarotti is, of course, destroying his voice whenever he sings this stuff. He is a lyric tenor. He should be singing Donizetti! It sounds fantastic, but it is just wrong, and all of the stadium singing is even worse.

Anyway, La Cieca's got it, but here's the short version: Preen-chee-peee-sa with a long "e" on the third syllable. You don't want to misunderstand and pronounce the third syllable exactly like "pay." It's more open.
posted by lackutrol at 12:29 AM on September 14, 2006

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