June 25th, 2007

by Illsaysheis

(Partial) Movie Review

Last night, after having devoured Bonnie Wade's book about Japanese music in one sitting, I decided to sit myself down and watch a movie. I had checked out Farinelli from the Reg about a week ago, and I popped that into iGor, on the theory that it wouldn't require the extended concentration of Love for Three Oranges or Dialogues of the Carmelites, which are my other two library movies. I checked Farinelli out because I'd seen it a few years ago, had some vague reaction, and then completely forgotten what that reaction was. Essentially, I was re-watching it to remind myself whether or not I had liked it.

A basic background: Farinelli is a movie about Carlo Broschi, stage name Farinelli, an eighteenth-century castrato who was supposed to have been the greatest singer who ever lived. He had a relatively short, intense career, making his debut at 15, and then retiring at 32 to sing for the Spanish court for the rest of his long life. When the movie came out, the great buzz-generating feature was that it showed Farinelli singing on stage. Since they don't make castrati any more, and there are no good recordings* available, the filmmakers had to use Almighty Technology to dub Farinelli's singing voice. They made a big fuss of announcing how they had electronically blended the voices of a soprano and a countertenor to do this, and everyone decided it was a remarkable technical achievement.

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