27 Mar 2006
What's so great about eunuchs?
Raphaela Papadakis seems to like ‘playing with fire’. After her acclaimed performance as the put-upon maid, Anna, in Independent Opera’s production of Šimon Voseček’s Beidermann and the Arsonists at Sadler’s Wells last year, she is currently rehearsing for the premiere this week of And London Burned, a new opera by Matt Rogers which has been commissioned by Temple Music Foundation to commemorate the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London.
Thousands of boys were mutilated to satisfy 18th-century Europe's obsession with castrati singers. Meurig Bowen on a terrible trade
[Guardian, 27 March 2006]
Two and a half centuries ago, as he travelled through Italy, the French writer Charles de Brosses found his eye drawn to some of the men. Most, he noted, "become big and fat like capons, their mouths, their rumps, arms, breasts and neck rounded and chubby like women. When you meet them in a gathering you are completely taken aback on hearing these colossal men speak with a tiny, childlike voice."