Farinelli Il Castrato

Film, Action and adventure

Time Out says

Today the average opera isn't over till the diva trills her high notes, but in the 18th century the major stars were the male castrati. The film is soon ripping bodices and bunging three in a bed, allowing the angel-voiced Farinelli (Dionisi) and his composer sibling Riccardo (Lo Verso) to display their perfected love-making routine. Physiological queries thus answered, we can get on with the musical meat of a substantially true story. The castrato voice powered baroque opera through exquisite ornamentation and long-breathed melody, and here the dramatic conflict sparks between the brothers' loyalty to each other and the demanding presence of composer Handel (Krabbe) who wants to write for Farinelli, but ditch Riccardo. Corbiau's film gives convincing attention to the process of musical creation, but complicates itself with a tricksy narrative framework and an underwritten romantic subplot (Zylberstein wasted as the woman who flits between the brothers). Lavish sets and costumes make a colourful impression, the unusual material compels attention in its own way, but it's the vocal and authentic instrumental performances that raise the film momentarily towards the sublime. (The castrato voice was created in the celebrated musical research institute, IRCAM in Paris, by a synthesis of soprano and countertenor voices.

By: TJ


Release details

111 mins

Cast and crew

Gérard Corbiau
André Corbiau, Gérard Corbiau, Marcel Beaulieu
Stéfano Dionisi
Enrico Lo Verso
Elsa Zylberstein
Caroline Cellier
Marianne Basler
Jacques Boudet
Omero Antonutti
Jeroen Krabbe
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