Farinelli is the artistic name of Carlo Broschi, a young singer in Handel's time. He was castrated in his childhood in order to preserve his voice. During his life he becomes a very famous opera singer, managed by his mediocre brother (Riccardo).Written by
Michel Rudoy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Both male and female voices were combined to create the sound of Farinelli's singing voice. The male voice was Derek Lee Ragin, a British countertenor and the female Ewa MaÅas-Godlewska, a Polish mezzo-soprano. See more »
LIGHTING. In scenes that show stage lights and chandeliers, the focus on them is softened, but it can still be seen that the "lamps" and "candles" are in fact far too steady, and too smokeless, to be or to contain live flame. Gaslight was not brought into theatres until just after 1800 (in England), and limelight -- with real quicklime -- around 1820. Also, some outdoor lighting -- outside palaces, etc. -- is obviously too bright, blue- or green-shaded, smokeless, and sharp-edged to come from a bonfire. See more »
Farinelli is not nearly as awful as I feared it would be. It's similar in many ways to Amadeus. Like Amadeus, it has glorious music beautifully performed. Like Amadeus, it tells a good (if melodramatic) story. Like Amadeus, it has a marvelous period feel. Like Amadeus, the characters in this story have the names and occupations of real people, but their portrayal on the screen is not even caricature: a caricature necessarily starts with something recognizeable.
Farinelli was famous in history not merely for a phenomenal voice and outstanding musicianship and musical connoisseurship, but for poise, dignity, and perfect-pitch judgement of human character; he is portrayed throughout as a hysteric. Handel is shown as a pompous, bullying nervous wreck verging on the psychotic, quite at variance with all reliable accounts of his humor, sturdiness, practicality, and reputation for scrupulous probity toward his musicians and singers.
Handel could not have said, to Farinelli, during the latter's first sensational season with the Opera of the Nobility, that he would never write another opera, and not just because Handel was no faux-Freudian opera queen: Lady History inconveniently discloses that after that 1733-34 season Handel composed and presented Ariodante, Alcina, Atalanta, Giustino, Arminio, Berenice, Faramondo, Serse, and Imeneo; his last opera, Deidamia, went unperformed, but several in that list were significant successes, and some were revived more than once.
The two rival opera companies in London went down the drain more or less simultaneously, notwithstanding the enormous draw of Farinelli for the Nobility company, and notwithstanding the high quality of the music of its principal composers (Porpora, Hasse, undervalued today) and the stupendous quality of Handel's music (also undervalued); rather, the people with the money to afford the (by our standards) enormous ticket prices had simply lost interest.
One commentator here is skeptical about many "period" details. And rightly: for starters, that's not the way boys were castrated, but you don't need to know the truth. Relax, just enjoy the music and the costumes and the actors chewing the scenery.
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