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The Tenor-castrato connection, 1760-1860

Potter, John (2006) The Tenor-castrato connection, 1760-1860. Early Music, 35 (1). pp. 97-110. ISSN 0306-1078

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Abstract

This article looks at aspects of the tenor voice from the last quarter of the 18th century to the second half of the 19th. The extended falsetto range of tenors during this period is discussed in the context of the castrato teaching tradition and a case is made for a special relationship between castratos and tenors, many of whom were taught by castratos as children, adolescents and adults. This had a direct effect on the operas of Haydn, Mozart, Rossini and Bellini, whose tenor arias may have a stylistic affinity with the exercises of castratos such as Rauzzini and Crescentini. By contrast, the upward extension of tenors' chest voices (especially from the second quarter of the 19th century onwards) relies less on castrato teaching, the majority of the new tenors having been taught by other tenors. The evidence for the decline of the older style and its replacement by the more powerful technique that is the basis of the modern tenor voice is examined. It is suggested that the modern operatic countertenor sound may be something like the falsetto sound of the ‘Bellini’ tenor, and that re-creation of the older castrato-influenced sound might be possible using these voices.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Music (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2009 14:09
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2009 14:09
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/em/cal102
Status: Published
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Identification Number: 10.1093/em/cal102
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5986

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