Tuesday, January 22, 2008


0801 Farinelli portrait detail
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

Wandering around the National Gallery Of Victoria International (and Intergalactic too, while they're at it???) I was paying some attention to details of painted textiles - laces, and the edges of dresses and so forth. And thus I took this picture - only then realising (and taking a photo that's a tad out of focus of the whole work) that one of the subjects of this portrait is the castrati, Farinelli.

The film, Farinelli, is among my favourites, and from all the music, the Handel aria from Rinaldo, Lascia ch'io panga. For the film's music, as I recollect, they merged a countertenor's voice with a soprano's to achieve the range of a castrati.

This video's a little crackly, but countertenor Philippe Jaroussky has the voice of an angel. (I can't find this on iTunes, so if you know of an album on which this is included, please let me know).

(direct link to this on YouTube)

Here's the version from the film Farinelli with the marvellously cast Stephen Dionisi 'fishing' to the work of the merged voices:

(direct link to this on YouTube)

As with the duets from yesterday, I don't have enough of the language to know what they're singing. Perhaps then, though, this lets you overlay what you hear with what you imagine, or believe, or find to be true and how the music speaks to you. When I'm cherrypicking opera, it doesn't worry me to have little or no idea of what they're singing, although I imagine it could be more irritating if you were watching a single opera from beginning to end.

Today's alternative photo would have been shiny stuff from the dentist's and yes, I'd rather think about (and listen to) Handel than the whine of the dental drill and the elegant sensation of fat (anaesthetised) lip feeling as though it's turning you into a drooling embarassment to yourself. Which is one reason why there's no photo, as I was somewhat distracted. This is much more beautiful.

(fishing: miming to a song. cf Milli Vanilli, or for that matter Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.)

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