Renata Pokupic. Picture Chris GLoag
Published: 17 January, 2013
by SEBASTIAN TAYLOR
MUSIC for eight castrati composed by Mozart is being performed by Ian Page’s Classical Opera at the Wigmore Hall on Tuesday.
Castrati first appeared in Italy in the 16th century and, 200 years later, leading castrati had enjoyed cult status, fame and wealth. It is thought that as many as 4,000 boys were being castrated each year in mid-18th century, parents desperately hoping their boys would secure fame and fortune for their families.
Although Mozart did not compose any parts for castrati in his four greatest operas, more than half of his other completed operas include parts for one or two. Venanzio Rauzzini created the role of Cecilio in Lucio Silla in 1777 – Mozart also composed the famous Exsultate Jubilate for him. And Giovanni Manzuoli sang the title role of in the 1771 premiere of Mozart’s Ascanio in Alba.
It is a mark of the height and range of the castrato repertoire that two singers, soprano Sarah Fox and mezzo Renata Pokupic, are performing Mozart’s castrati compositions at next week’s concert.