The melody to Nella Fantasia (In My Fantasy) is Gabriel’s Oboe from the 1986 film The Mission which starred Jeremy Irons as Father Gabriel and Robert De Niro. On a mission to convert New World natives, Father Gabriel approaches a waterfall with an oboe and begins to play the famous tune to the Guarani natives who he knows are stalking him. The film score, for which he won a Golden Globe, was composed by Ennio Morricone.
Soprano Sarah Brightman asked the composer if she could have Gabriel’s Oboe arranged as an aria and the Nella Fantasia lyrics are by Chiara Ferraù. New Zealander Hayley Westenra recorded this as Whispers In A Dream. Sarah released her rendition in 1998. Since then, many singers have recorded Nella Fantasia, including Russell Watson, Chloe Agnew (Celtic Woman) and Katherine Jenkins.
I was singing to Katherine’s version but had to switch as her mezzo version was low for my soprano voice. I was revisiting this song. I first learnt it for a concert that was to be held at the Lutheran Church of St Sauveur, Paris which is just off the Rue de Rivoli, near the Louvre. This was a few years back. I had not had many singing lessons at that time and it was going to be my first solo venture (as an amateur singer, of course). I was very relieved when the concert was cancelled as it was certain that I would not have been able to do the song justice! I think I downloaded the song in half a dozen keys to try and solve my problems singing it. Re-visiting songs is good practice as it indicates what progress, if any, has been made with the voice. Never have a failure!
One of my favourite versions is that of Il Divo, the immensely successful multinational classical pop singing quartet. The group was together by Simon Cowell, after a 2 year search (2001-2003) for the 4 singers. The goal of the group was to recreate the style of The Three Tenors: Domingo, Carreras, Pavarotti. The 4 Il Divo (3 are classically trained and the 4th is a pop singer) hail from Spain, the US, Switzerland and France and sing in French, Spanish, Italian, English and Latin.
I hope you’ve poured yourself a cup of tea or gin, and are sitting back and enjoying the above Il Divo version of Nella Fantasia and a hop around the various musical links I’ve provided, for your delightful delectation.