The castrati

The legendary castrato Carlo María Broschi, Farinelli (© Wikimedia)

In the 18th century, it wasn’t the soprano or the tenor who ruled the operatic stage. It was the castrato. The likes of Farinelli and Gaspare Pacchierotti were huge stars. George Frederick Händel, Domenico Scarlotti and Christoph Willibald Gluck composed for them, and women wore broaches of them pinned to their chest. But that fame came at a price.

Producer: Chris Chambers

Broadcast: August 3, 1999