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News

12 Nov 2004

Separating the Men from the Boys

Who wears the pants in this opera? By Mark Kanny TRIBUNE-REVIEW CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC Thursday, November 11, 2004 Perhaps the most novel aspect of Pittsburgh Opera's upcoming production of "The Marriage of Figaro" will be Michael Maniaci's portrayal of Cherubino...

Who wears the pants in this opera?

By Mark Kanny
TRIBUNE-REVIEW CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
Thursday, November 11, 2004

Perhaps the most novel aspect of Pittsburgh Opera's upcoming production of "The Marriage of Figaro" will be Michael Maniaci's portrayal of Cherubino -- the ebullient teenager who has fallen in love with love. It is a classic "trouser role" -- a male character intended to be sung by a woman.

While it might be argued that Mozart's choice of soprano for the teen was meant to suggest his voice hadn't changed, trouser roles are created for musical reasons. Richard Strauss assigns the young man Octavian to be sung by a woman because he adored women's voices and wanted to write a trio for women's voices. There's not really a gender identity question for either Octavian or Cherubino -- both are young men who love women but sing awfully high for a guy.

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