Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Let Farinelli Rest
There's been a recent news item in wide circulation about a project involving the exhumation of the remains of Carlo Broschi, known as Farinelli, the most celebrated of the castrati singers. This is being done for musicological and physiological research purposes. I'm all for open scientific inquiry, but this seems both unnecessary and disrespectful. Is knowing more about the anatomy and medical histories of castrati truly an urgent scientific issue? It is true that we don't really have a good idea of how the best castrati singers sounded, and there is some truly beautiful and virtuosic repertoire written for their voices, but I doubt that this project will add much to that particular mystery. There are some things I really want to know -- what the rest of Monteverdi's Arriana sounded like, or with whom Dick Cheney
conspired consulted in creating the administration's energy policy, not to mention the whereabouts of a half-dozen misplaced household objects -- but the physiology of a castrato? There are some mysteries that can stay unsolved.