Countertenor to Headline the Marquee on the Great White Way

(Credit: Ben Ealovega) Countertenor Iestyn Davies appears as the voice of Farinelli on Broadway.

The story of the famed castrato, Farinelli, will be arriving to Broadway this December for a limited engagement in “Farinelli and the King.”

This British production, written and composed by Claire van Kampen, is a real-life tale of one of history’s most famous Italian singers of the 18th century. After a premiere at the Shakespeare Globe, the production, directed by John Dove, transferred to the West End’s Duke of York Theater, where it won the title of the house’s highest grossing show.

Castrati, boys castrated before puberty, were a common occurrence in the earliest days of opera. With no male hormones to produce the transition from boy to man, their voices never dropped, leaving them with their unusually strong boy-soprano. Early 1700 is the period that these emasculated men took opera houses by storm, putting Farinelli right on time for a celebrity career.

His reputation of powerful vocals and virtuosic talent swept through Europe and upon his arrival in Madrid, his talents were summoned by the Queen of Spain with the hopes that his talent could cure her husband, King Philip the V’s, depression.

The play focuses on this piece of history in Spain, the period in which Farinelli becomes a chamber musician for the sad king, ending his public-performing career. Grammy-award winning countertenor, Iestyn Davies, is cast as the ghost singer, providing the vocals for actor, Sam Crane.

Within the play, Handel arias originated by Farinelli himself are featured, accompanied by a band of period, baroque instruments set in a gallery above the stage.

With the Metropolitan Opera audience 20 blocks down the street and a countertenor whose reputation is comparable to that of Farinelli’s, this 3-month, Broadway run will have theater and opera fans alike clamoring for a ticket in the Belasco Theater.

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About the Author

James Monroe Števko

Born in Houston, James began studying music at an early age, but it wasn’t until college that he first saw ballet. After pursuing music education, he decided instead to earn his BFA in Theatre from NIU while on scholarship. He was quickly offered a traineeship with Milwaukee Ballet where he performed in Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker. Since then, James has performed with Radio City Music, The Metropolitan Opera in Un Ballo in Maschera, as Enoch Jr. in Carousel with the Houston Grand Opera, the Muny in St. Louis in The King and I, 7 productions with The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cats at the Paramount Theatre, and RPM Productions. He has also performed alongside Katy Perry at the Met gala. He also loves to travel and blogs about his adventures.

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