Presenter Information

Sonja Breda, St Mary’s Academy

Start Date

26-4-2012 1:00 PM

End Date

26-4-2012 2:15 PM

Description

Baroque opera cannot be studied without acknowledging the castrated male singers, or castrati, who drew wild critical acclaim throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in Italy. Even the most impoverished Italians were known to forego their daily bread to witness the arias of the castrati. But what made these singers so incredibly popular? This paper argues that the popularity of the castrato in 18th century Italy was due to the castrato's uniquely paradoxical nature, viewed by the public both as sexual and spiritual. While the prominence of the castrato highlighted a desire for the unusual, the eventual extinction of the castrato reflects a return to naturalism with the end of the Baroque period.

Description

Winner of the Karen E. Hoppes Young Historians Award for Outstanding Research and Writing.

Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/7688

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Apr 26th, 1:00 PM Apr 26th, 2:15 PM

The Paradox of the Castrato

Baroque opera cannot be studied without acknowledging the castrated male singers, or castrati, who drew wild critical acclaim throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in Italy. Even the most impoverished Italians were known to forego their daily bread to witness the arias of the castrati. But what made these singers so incredibly popular? This paper argues that the popularity of the castrato in 18th century Italy was due to the castrato's uniquely paradoxical nature, viewed by the public both as sexual and spiritual. While the prominence of the castrato highlighted a desire for the unusual, the eventual extinction of the castrato reflects a return to naturalism with the end of the Baroque period.