This strange story conflating art, piety, mutilation, and compassion would depend both on Hemingway's musical erudition and his realization that his own heritage was closely linked to church music and, remotely, to its use of castrati
The greatest of the castrati
of the period, Farinelli, who never worked for Handel, and Senesino, who did, drew the town.
or the truly enchanting castrati
voice is impossible to know.
Initially this seems a doubtful premise, since English boy players, however exploited, appear very securely to have been spared the fate of Italian castrati
But for the castrati
this WAS a prize, a reward, because they only picked the boys with the best voices.
Their voices moved the greatest composers of the 18th Century - particularly Handel in the case of Beard - to write much more music for tenors rather than the castrati
singers who had dominated proceedings since 1600.
While many singers are happily recording their Nessun Dormas and O Sole Mios, Cecilia has been busy in the archives of Naples digging out relatively unknown Baroque castrati
music, tracking down now neglected composers such as Nicola Porpora, Antonio Caldara and Francesco Araia.
Extremely popular in the 17th century, interest waned until the 20th century increased popularity of Baroque opera and the need of male singers to replace the castrati
roles in such works.
Guest editor Mauro Calcagno compiled articles ranging from Monteverdi's Orfeo and L'incoronazione di Poppea, castrati
, and related interview and performance reviews.
Composers such as George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi and Domenico Scarlatti wrote music for castrati
-- male singers who were castrated at puberty in order to retain their ability to reach the higher vocal ranges.
On Tuesday counter-tenors Clint Van Der Linde (Flavio) and James Laing (Guido), singing roles originally written for castrati
, showed total understanding of Baroque coloratura and ornamentation, as did Paula Sides' Emilia, although her tone in some of the more stratospheric passages had a tendency to sound constricted and shrill.
Gibson's poems drag the listener by the ear to visit ancient Greece and Jimi Hendrix, Italian castrati
and the South Side of Chicago.