Dr. Guillaume Bernardi, York University
The castrati singers were probably the most striking feature of Italian Opera during the Baroque era, and to this day we still remember the names of singers like Farinelli or Senesino. The practice of mutilating boys for the sake of musical virtuosity, however, quickly disappeared with the end of the Ancien Régime. With the revival of Early Music in the middle of the 20th century, many attempts have been made to reinvent the angel voice of the castrati. This lecture will first evoke the extraordinary world of the castrati and then examine how their voice has been recreated for the opera stage of today.