The age of the castratos was one of the most dazzling and remarkable in European music history. Seldom has there ever been such a complete fusion of sensuousness and splendour, form and content, poetry and music, and, above all, such a perfection of vocal virtuosity, as was achieved in the glory days of the Baroque era. 
Until now, however, there has been no comprehensive presentation of the art of the castratos in music, word and image. In our attempt to portray this musical phenomenon as fully as possible, Naples and its inestimably rich musical culture have served as our model. Thanks to its historical, demographic and cultural situation, this city developed towards the end of the seventeenth century into the centre of the Western musical world -the true capital of European music, as it were -and its influence extended well into the eighteenth century.
The pivotal character in this story is the Neapolitan composer, composition teacher, vocal pedagogue and impresario Nicola Porpora {1686-1768}, who quickly attained a reputation as the foremost voice trainer of the eighteenth century -"premier maitre de chant de l'univers" (George Sand). Porpora achieved renown through his singing pupils: Farinelli, Caffarelli, Salimbeni, Appiani and Porporino, an illustrious quintet which includes the most famous castratos of all time. Besides these singers, Porpora also taught the great opera librettist Pietro Metastasio and, to a certain degree, the composers Johann Adolf Hasse and Joseph Haydn.




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