A weekend of tribute to Castrati


"Musician deprived in childhood of his reproductive organs, to preserve his high voice to sing the part called Dessus or Soprano.”  Rousseau, Dictionnaire de Musique.

Baroque Europe saw the reign of castrati. Long present in the Byzantine Empire, they were imposed first at the Sistine Chapel and then from Rome – where no woman could go on stage – conquered all of Italy before becoming indispensable from Vienna to London.

A symbol of bel canto, their powerful and virtuoso voice could cover the entire musical register from bass to soprano, with an incomparable brilliance that fascinated both public and composers. These first stars of singing, travelled between European operas but were not the heroes of French style operas, however they conquered the Royal Chapel when Louis XIV was but a young man and Crescentini made Napoleon cry when he created Pimmanlione by Cherubini for the emperor, who established him in Paris in 1806.
The revival of baroque music brought back the vocal splendor of these singers of the past, giving new luster to Italian baroque operas. Versailles is celebrating castrati with five exceptional events. First Gluck’s landmark Orfeo, interpreted on stage by Philippe Jaroussky; the wonderful Franco Fagioli for a virtuoso recital; finally the rising talent of Filippo Mineccia reviving Jommelli’s exceptional art. Two discoveries now: the young Ricardo Angelo Strano takes us to Naples to discover its baroque mysteries and the winner of the Renata Tebaldi International Voice Competition, the American artist Eric Jurenas, singing Purcell and Handel for a very Brisith joust between castrati and counter-tenors…Versailles celebrates the Primo Uomo!