Discover the life and world of 18th century castrati with Cecilia Bartoli.
Rarely has a singer been as commited to tracking down injustly forgotten musical masterpieces as the great mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli. An expert in highly virtuoso coloratura music of the Baroque era, she turned her attention to the little-known repertoire of castrato singers. A specialist in this domain, she is the face of this documentary, in which she shares her knowledge about the intriguing and fascinating world of castrati, and lends her voice to the greatest castrato of all, Farinelli, in performances of bravura works that she has unearthed and infussed with dazzling life.
The film features many opulent, dramatic re-enactments with actors in period costumes and evocating settings such as Baroque theaters or dingy Neapolitan workshops where young boys were robbed of their masculinity. These scenes alternate with informative comments on medical, historical and sociological aspects of the catrato phenomenon. Bartoli follows the trail of these unique singers, who were idolized as pop stars of the Baroque. She conveys an idea of the emotional and often sexual agitation provoked by them when they hurled their breathtakingly complex coloraturas into the audience. Ambiguous creatures, the castrati had voices as powerful as a man's, as high as a woman's and as innocent as a child's. A must-see documentary.
Picture: © Stefan Schneider
Ferruccio Soleri (stage director), Sigiswald Kuijken (conductor) – La Monnaie
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