Italy has been severely affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. There are currently around as many Coronavirus cases in Italy as in the rest of Europe combined. The entire country is now on lockdown to slow the death toll from rising, and Italians have taken to social media to build some team spirit to pull the country out of the situation.
Social media channels are full of motivational videos from Italy, and among those this clip set to Nessun Dorma from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot opera. It shows the “Frecce Tricolori” aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Air Force pulling a magnificent display on the Italian sky.
On Twitter and elsewhere online, the gist of the video is said to be that the lone plane depicts the Coronavirus threatening Italy. As it faces the larger formation of planes, they release a tricolor smoke trail showing the Italian flag, which encompasses the lone smoke trail of the soloist “virus plane”, turning it invisible.
All of this happens right at one of the most emotional moments of the aria sung by Pavarotti, where the hero of the story proclaims victory. For plane geeks and opera nerds, and especially plane geeks who are into opera, this is especially powerful. For those who recognise the aria from car commercials, it’s still pretty neat.
However, the tricolor smoke show set to music isn’t something the team has come up with just for the sake of the virus pandemic: for a number of years, when possible, Frecce Tricolori performances have concluded in the formation drawing a five-kilometre long Italian flag timed to Nessun Dorma blasting out of the speakers on the ground. This happened during Pavarotti’s funeral, for instance, or when the F-104 Starfighter was retired. But at this difficult time, the display seems especially powerful.
The Frecce Tricolori is currently the world’s largest aerobatic patrol, using ten Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN planes for its shows. Next year, they will celebrate their 60th anniversary, as they were officially formed in 1961 to bring together the best pilots from smaller aerobatic teams. One of those included the Cavallino Rampante, formed in 1950, the name of which is shared by the famous Ferrari insignia featuring the prancing horse.