Thursday 22 October 2009

Alternative views (1)

In Handel's Flavio the role of Vitige was written for a female soprano (though the role is usually sung by a mezzo nowadays). This means that Vitige has a higher voice then his lover, Teodata. As part of the plot, it is necessary for Vitige to be embarassed about his association with Teodata and not to tell Flavio about it when Flavio expresses interest in Teodata.

Now Handel wrote a relatively small number of soprano male roles, partly because he didn't work with many soprano castrati. Quite often, I find it difficult to appreciate sopranos in these roles because they seem to fail to have the requisite knack of androgyny, so that the come over as feminine; not just physically but vocally. I must add here that Angelica Voje in the recent ETO Flavio was entirely admirable. But this led me to wonder why, with the penchant nowadays for cross dressing, no-one has turned one of the soprano heros into a woman. In the case of Flavio this would work moderately well, it would help explain Vitige's lack of response when Flavio talks about Teodata.

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