This volume, however, is more than a history of Guadagni; it offers insight into the life of a castrato
in the mid-18th century.
Then too, when the castrato
first came into being, the human body in Europe was still a relatively open site, permeable and reproducible" (p.
This year, Khodr is focusing on the repertoire of perhaps the most famous castrato
singer of them all: Farinelli.
The concert is called Sacrificium after Bartoli's latest album which concentrates on the music of Porpora whose pupils were the most famous castratos
of all time.
Mixed in with tales of Cleopatra drinking a pearl to win a bet with Mark Anthony and jet-wearing castratos
from the Roman era, there is a dizzying amount of information to absorb.
It moves at different times into a history of the Teatro S Giovanni Grisostomo, the most luxurious Venice theatre, flagship of the Grimani family and the place where the great castratos
generally sang; a sketch of the development of musical education in Naples and of Neapolitan opera seria; an analysis of changing styles of vocal writing and ornamentation; an account of the criticism of opera by literary men; and a social history of the singing profession and its role in the opera business.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this production, which opened at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Friday night, is the casting of three leading countertenors - David Daniels, Bejun Mehta and David Walker - replacing the castratos
called for by the composer.
His distinctive voice is most in demand for early operas, including the works of Handel and Purcell that demand the vocal and musical range the Baroque's pampered castratos
were famous for.