Director Gerard Corbiau's Farinelli won Best Picture of 1995. The foreign film, mixed Italian and French, retells the story of the famous and greatest castrato singer Carlo Broschi. The film is exotic, intensely emotional and loaded with beautiful music of the Baroque Era (1600-1750). With all the good things about this movie, comes some things that might be rather disturbing or inappropriate for a younger audience. This is assuredly an adult film. There are two explicit sex scenes at the beginning and end of the film. This is a movie for an adult who is interested in the period, in the life of the castrati and in opera at this time. The opening introduces Carlo Broschi as a little boy singing in the church choir. Another young lad has been castrated to preserve his voice and is so mortified he leaps to his death. Eventually Carlo's brother Riccardo is obligated to do the same to his brother. We don't learn until later in the film that it was Riccardo and not Carlos' brother that conducted the castration. Here, Farinelli is usually quite ill and is forced to take opium as medicine. Farinelli does not seem to think highly of his brother's operas, which are written exclusively for his voice. Instead, he believes the greatest composer of this time is George Frederic Handel, played convincingly by Jerome Krabbe. In a dinner party, in which the Nobles insult Handel, Farinelli is outraged and declares that Handel will long be remembered and not the Nobles and their operas. This ends up being true since Handel is considered one of the greatest composers of this period together with Johann Sebastian Bach. The movie has some inaccuracies and are not historically true. Naturally, this being a costume drama, there are some elements which were entirely fictional created for the sake of sensationalism. Although it is true Riccardo Broschi did compose operas for his brother Farinelli, there is no real evidence they "shared" the women they bedded. In the movie, a Countess is so enamored with Farinelli that she jumps into bed with him only to discover he's castrated. Thus, Riccardo plants the seed and Farinelli only lures the women into bed and seduces them. This is fabricated material to "sex up" the movie. In real life, Farinelli I'm inclined to believe was chaste. He sung many times for religious services and was a devout Catholic. He may not have been at all bitter for his castration since he lived like a king all his life, surrounded in luxury. He was well acquainted with European royalty, all of Europe loved him and he died after years of singing in the chambers of King Phillip of Spain. The rivalry between the Nobles Theatre Opera and Handel's opera company is true. In fact, it remains the only true thing about this movie. The English in London disliked the German foreigner Handel and his prominence in London. He was so beloved that even King George and Queen Anne protected him. The Nobles schemed endlessly to get rid of Handel. The portrayal of Handel as a musical genius, a man of stubborn, perfectionist character is all true. I think the most moving scenes are those with Handel, such as the scene in which Farinelli is overhearing him play the organ in the church and is moved by the music and the scene of Farinelli singing "Lascio Chio Pianga" from Rinaldo which ultimately moves Handel to tears. All the scenes of opera and Farinelli singing in his majestic costumes in this movie are stunningly beautiful. Finally, this movie's soundtrack is incredible. It contains the combined voices of tenor Derek Rogin and soprano Ewa Mallas as the singing voice of Farinelli. The arias sung here are taken from Riccardo Broschi's operas Idaspe and Artaserse and from Handel's Julius Caesar and Rinaldo. A superb film and a must see for fans of Baroque opera.
Biography / Drama / Music
Biography / Drama / Music
Farinelli, is the artistic name of Carlo Broschi, a young singer in Handel's time. He was castrated in his childhood in order to preserve his voice. During his life he becomes to be a very ...
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August 14, 2019