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The Modern Castrato: Gaetano Guadagni and the Coming of a New Operatic Age Hardcover – 17 Jul 2014

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Written in an engaging style, well researched, and replete with quotations and evidence from historical documents ... Howard gives the reader insight into the evolving musical culture in mid-18th-century Europe ... The book should have appeal for readers with a wide range of backgrounds, from musicologists to opera aficionados to those interested in cultural history or the erstwhile phenomenon known as the castrato. (C. A. Traupman-Carr, Choice)

About the Author

After studying music at Oxford and Surrey Universities, Patricia Howard joined the Music Department at the Open University, where she worked as a Course Tutor and a Course Team member. In addition, she has written and broadcast extensively as a free-lance, contributing in particular to the BBC's 'Music Magazine' and 'Music Matters', and writing regularly for the Musical Times, Early Music, Music and Letters, and Il saggiatore musicale. She has worked with the singers Emma Dogliani and Iestyn Davies, researching repertory, writing concert and disc notes and presenting pre-concert talks.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating window into another world with an uncanny connection into ours. 8 Jun. 2014
By M. Parker - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Guadagni is the castrato singer who created the title role in Gluck's opera ORFEO and his place in operatic history is thus assured. But there is so much more to know as the author reveals to us. The influence of Handel on his musical style; the influence of Garrick on his stage deportment and acting (and subsequent operatic acting); Guadagni's continuing association with the role of ORFEO and not only in Gluck's version; his contribution to the operatic reforms of Gluck; and the entire world of 18th century Italian opera and the castrati singers. After reading this book, I have a much richer understanding of all these subjects. With all the interest in recent years in 18th century opera, there should be a large audience for this book. My one reservation is the implication at various points that countertenors are a substitute for castrati singers. This is a widely held view, but it is not vocally defensible. Female singers are a better substitute for operatic castrato roles from the vocal point of view. Handel never used countertenors on the operatic stage though they certainly had a place in his church music and a few oratorios (as soloists). Still, this is an important book for lovers of 18th century opera.
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