Song Title Challenge #1: Nessun Dorma – Giacomo Puccini

The Song Title Challenge was started as a creative exercise started on A Crucible of Scribes, a blog started by some people from the writing course I did last year.  We gave each other song titles, and then you had to write a short piece of fiction based on that title without listening to the song.

I’ve decided I want to make this a regular feature on this blog.  Initially, I’ll be reposting my original pieces from the other blog, but I want to give you the opportunity to also suggest song titles for me.  You’re welcome to give titles for songs in languages other than English – just write them using the Latin alphabet and give the English translation of the title.  Also include the name of the band/artist who originally wrote/performed it.  Make your suggestions using the form on the challenge page.  If I use your title, I’ll include a link to your blog with my post.

I also want you to participate in the challenge.  Write a short piece of fiction, about 300 words, using the song title as your story title.  IMPORTANT: do not listen to the song before you write your piece, so the lyrics of the song won’t influence you.  Leave a link to your post in the comments section.  You’re also welcome to comment on my attempt which appears below.

This week’s challenge:  Nessun Dorma, from the opera Turandot by Giacomo Puccini and made popular again in 1990 by the Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti.  In English, the title means “None shall sleep”.  Have fun with it.

Nessun Dorma

The entire village had gathered inside the church.  Families and neighbours huddled together, talking in whispers.  The Fair Ones were abroad, dancing under the harvest moon, and it was not safe for men.

Pietro started awake as the padre grabbed his shoulder.  “Nessun dorma,” the old man whispered urgently.  “Sogni chiamano a loro!”  No one sleeps.  Dreams call to them.  They feed on dreams, invading your mind and driving you insane.  That’s why everyone was in the church tonight:  to keep each other awake; to keep them out.

Shadows flitted across the moonlight in the stained-glass windows.  Children’s voices laughed outside.  Mothers pulled their children closer to them.  Pietro felt the little hairs on the back of his neck standing up.  They were here.  There were muffled cries inside the church as someone knocked at the door.

“Please, can we come in?”  Their voices sounded like singing.  “It’s cold out here, and we’re hungry.  Please, can we come in?”

The padre crossed himself and started praying the Our Father, most of the other villagers following his example.

Pietro felt the world around him blurring, the sounds fading away until there was nothing but the heavenly voices, calling to him, luring him, seducing him.  He knew what he had to do.  He walked to the door as if in a dream.  He was aware of other voices calling him, warning him, but they sounded crass and ugly and he ignored them.  He pulled back the heavy bolts and swung open the doors.  They were standing outside, beautiful, radiant, smiling at him.  He raised his hands in a gesture of welcome, inviting them in.

A terrified scream from inside the church broke the spell.  For a moment he saw the Fair Ones as they truly were, their cruel little black eyes staring from faces like death masks, before the first one to pass him snapped his neck with a twist of its fingers.  The screams inside the church quickly stopped, and all that remained was the sound of children’s voices, laughing.

Copyright © 2012 Herman Kok

9 thoughts on “Song Title Challenge #1: Nessun Dorma – Giacomo Puccini

  1. Reblogged this on if all else fails…use a hammer and commented:

    With the humblest of apologies, dear readers, I’m going to plead out for today’s Song Title Challenge. All my creative energies at present is being channelled into the novel and while I have a song title waiting in the wings, I am completely unable to think of anything to do with it, even if I ignore the genre. Bumblepuppies has me stumped for the moment.

    To make up for it, I’m reblogging the very first Song Title Challenge I did here. I posted this way back in May so I reckon a lot of you haven’t seen it yet. This particular challenge is also one of two that served as the inspiration for the current novel.

    Enjoy, and if you’re up to it, take part yourself.


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