Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: October ::
Re: Eunuchs and Castrati
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1745  Friday, 15 October 1999.

[1]     From:   John Reed <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 10:49:24 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

[2]     From:   Manuela Rossini <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 17:49:19 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

[3]     From:   H. R. Greenberg <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 12:04:31 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

[4]     From:   Douglas Chapman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 12:55:28 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

[5]     From:   Sim Shattuck <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 12:43:23 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

[6]     From:   Michael Cohen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 11:51:44 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Reed <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 10:49:24 +0100
Subject: 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

If I am not mistaken, there was at least some sort of a practice in
Medieval and Renaissance Spain performed on choirboys, as noted, in
order to preserve the high voice.  These boys and men were the butt of
cruel social ridicule.  There is a rather humorous Spanish picaresque
novel which you might find helpful called 'El capon' (in English
'capon', or castrated rooster), that illustrates their trials,
tribulations, and non-acceptance in society.

John W. Reed
Dept. of Hispanic Studies
Illinois Wesleyan University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Manuela Rossini <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 17:49:19 +0200
Subject: 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

This is not an answer to Yvonne Bruce's questions, but for all who a)
are interested in the topic in general and b) understand German I highly
recommend the following book which - gathering from the few pages I read
on the 18th century - considers the castrati (in opera tho) in a similar
way as Greenblatt in "Fiction and Friction": Ortkemper, Hubert. Engel
wider Willen. Die Welt der Kastraten. Eine andere Operngeschichte. dtv,
1995.

Best,
Manuela Rossini

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           H. R. Greenberg <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 12:04:31 EDT
Subject: 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

For an interesting discussion of this subject, read-believe it or
not-Anne Rice's excellent novel: "CRY TO HEAVEN". Should still be in
print somewhere.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas Chapman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 12:55:28 EDT
Subject: 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

This is a subject which really musicians should answer. Perhaps of some
interest to SHAKSPEReans, but since I am a musician and made a study of
this practice which flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries, I'll
respond off list to you if you wish.

The short answer is: YES INDEED, the Catholic Church was not only
promoting castration, but were the actual perpetrators in the castration
of boys with voices they could preserve. Thus castrati were treated with
royal pomp and much, much splendor; but had no say in the matter when
they were 12-13. Their parents had little or no say either. It was done
for the glory of God and mostly one must conclude for the entertainment
of the bishops and other church fathers.

The composers of the period wrote specifically for some famous castrati
(many were "divas" and were superstars of their day), the last of whom
was Rossini.

More off-line.

Douglas Chapman

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sim Shattuck <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 12:43:23 -0600
Subject: 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

Read Anne Rice's _Cry to Heaven_ for info on church castrati.

The Church sanctioned castrati only for its choirs.  No other castration
that I'm aware of was permitted since castration hadn't been permitted
since Origen.

Hope this helps.

Sim Shattuck

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Cohen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Oct 1999 11:51:44 -0700
Subject: 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1743 Q: Eunuchs and Castrati

According to Funk and Wagnall's online encyclopedia: "EUNUCH (Gr.
eunouchos, "keeping the bed"), castrated human male. From ancient times,
in the Far and Middle East eunuchs were used to take charge of the women
in harems or to serve as chamberlains. They often attained positions of
great influence, and in Egypt the term was applied to any court officer
whether or not he was castrated. The idea that eunuchs were lacking in
courage and intelligence is refuted by the histories of Iran, India, and
China, where they were active and effective in public affairs. The
employment of eunuchs reached its height in the courts of the Byzantine
emperors at Constantinople. Muslim rulers employed eunuchs mainly as
harem officials.

"Boys who were castrated in order to keep their soprano voices were
known as castrati; the Italian soprano Carlo Broschi Farinelli (1705-82)
was one of the most famous castrati. The practice was widespread in
Italy until the accession of Pope Leo XIII in 1878. The voluntary
practice of castration for religious celibacy appeared early in
Christian history and was most prevalent in the 3d century, but it was
never officially approved by the church and came to be violently
denounced."

Also, the following conference occurred this year at the University of
Wales; some of the listed scholars have doubtless published on this
topic:

     University of Wales Institute of Classics and Ancient History

       Neither Woman nor Man: Eunuchs in Antiquity and Beyond

         26-28 July 1999, Aberdare Hall, Cardiff University

Speakers include:

Raanan S. Abusch (Princeton) - Eunuchs and Gender Transformation
Ruth Bardel (Oxford) - Castration in Greek Myth
Vern L. Bullough (California) - Eunuchs in History and Society
Deirdre Good (New York) - Eunuchs in the Matthean Community
Shelley Hales (Cardiff) - The Galli in Roman Art
Jane Lightfoot (Oxford) - Galli in the Cult of the Dea Syria
Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (Cardiff) - Images of Eunuchs in Achaemenid Persia
Dominic Montserrat (Warwick) - Neglected Evidence for Sixth-Century
Eunuchs
Margaret Mullett (Belfast) - Theophylact of Ochrid

 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.