If you recall from last class, Carlo Broschi, or Farinelli (1705-1782) is considered one of the greatest castratos of all times. Castratos were boys who had been castrated (testicles removed) at a young age to preserve their high pitched, beautiful voice before they hit puberty and their voice broke. This practice started within the Catholic church and spread to opera, where the castratos got the main roles and became the superstars of their time. This lasted from the 1600’s to the early 1800’s. Considering what you see on tv and the internet nowadays, from both men and women artists, society has definitely come a long way.
- Although it seems barbaric now, and considering the fact that often times, it was the parents who consented to have their boys castrated with the hopes of them achieving fame, do you think this practice was justified?
- What do you think of the influence that religious tradition had on society, in which they would rather castrate boys than let women sing alongside with men?
- Do you think it was a fair price to pay to be famous and earn the best salaries in the musical world?
- Can you compare to a current “sacrifice” that artists make for the sake of fame?
Please write at least one substantial paragraph with your comments on the castrato practice, answering the questions above.
Farinelli starts to remember when he was castrated as a boy while singing an aria of an opera by Handel.