Baroque Opera/Farinelli Discussion
Here are 3 clips from a movie called Farinelli that I would like you to look at. I put these here so you could see what Baroque Opera really looked and sounded like. It’s a Dutch film that was made in 1994 and great lengths were taken to recreate the look and feel of Baroque Opera. They recreated sets and costumes and even recreated an opera house based on paintings that were made from the era. If you can imagine yourself back in time (around the year 1700) in the audience at performances like these, you will start to see how and why Opera had such a huge impact on the masses. Remember, Opera was the very first venue outside of the royal courts that people from every walk of life could go to experience live music. Not only was there this new highly emotional music, there was an incredible spectacle to be seen as well.
On another note, the main character in the movie, Farinelli (Carlo Broschi), was a castrato singer. Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds if you hesitated while reading that. Castrato (castrati is plural) singers are artificially created male sopranos and they were a huge part of the success of early opera. They had the most beautiful and powerful voices that have ever been heard. Here’s a link to the wiki page about the castrati if you’re curious. Link (Links to an external site.) Farinelli was the most famous and celebrated castrato of all time. They used modern technology to try to recreate the sound of the castrati in this film. They did it by digitally overlapping the voice of a modern woman soprano and a male countertenor (a natural male soprano). The third of these clips is the most shocking but it’s also the most famous aria of the three having been written by George Frederic Handel.
1- Watch these 3 short arias. In addition to the incredible music and singing, I want you to pay attention to the opera houses, the sets and the costumes. Keep in mind that all of this happened before electricity and motors. Every moving piece of the sets had to be man powered. If you can imagine yourself back in time I think that you’ll see why opera became so popular so quickly.
2- Post your thoughts on the discussion board.
Ombra fedele anch’io – Idaspe (1730) de Riccardo Broschi. Farinelli (Links to an external site.)
Son qual nave ch’agitata – Artaserse (1734) de Riccardo Broschi. Farinelli. (Links to an external site.)
Lascia ch’io pianga – Rinaldo (1711) de Georg Friedrich Händel. Farinelli. (Links to an external site.)