Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gérard Corbiau|
|Produced by||Véra Belmont|
|Written by||Marcel Beaulieu
Enrico Lo Verso
|Music by||Johann Adolf Hasse (composer: additional music)
Nicola Porpora (composer: additional music)
Ewa Malas-Godlewska (singer)
Derek Lee Ragin (singer)
|Cinematography||Walther van den Ende|
|Edited by||Joëlle Hache|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics (Region 1 DVD)|
|Box office||$2,122,948 (USA)|
Farinelli is a 1994 Belgian-Italian-French biographical drama film directed by Gérard Corbiau and starring Stefano Dionisi, Enrico Lo Verso, Elsa Zylberstein and Jeroen Krabbé. It centers on the life and career of the 18th-century Italian opera singer Carlo Broschi, known as Farinelli, considered the greatest castrato singer of all time; as well as the relation with his brother, composer Riccardo Broschi.
Although based on real-life events, dramatic license was taken to a great extent, and only the basic facts of Farinelli's life are correct, while the plot line is completely fictional and far removed from what is known about real-life Carlo Broschi (1705–1782). For example, the ambiguous relationship between the Broschi brothers, the stormy one with rival composer Handel, and Farinelli's own amorous escapades and over-the-top rockstar attitude are totally spurious. Additionally, Farinelli's brother is given much more importance than he actually had in his brother's career, while Porpora's own (and that of other composers of the Neapolitan School as well) is de-emphasized; the movie also offers a different explanation for how Carlo Broschi came to take the stage name Farinelli than what has been historically ascertained. George Frideric Handel, played by Jeroen Krabbé, is made out to be somewhat of a villain, but that is based on the competition between the London theater at which Handel's music was played and the rival theater at which Farinelli sang for a short period.
|Stefano Dionisi||Carlo Maria Broschi|
|Enrico Lo Verso||Riccardo Broschi|
|Jeroen Krabbé||George Frideric Handel|
|Caroline Cellier||Margareth Hunter|
|Renaud du Peloux de Saint Romain||Benedict|
|Omero Antonutti||Nicola Porpora|
|Marianne Basler||Comtesse Mauer|
|Pier Paolo Capponi||Broschi|
|Graham Valentine||Prince de Galles|
|Jacques Boudet||Felipe V|
|Delphine Zentout||Young admirer|
Although Dionisi provided the speaking voice (originally in French), Farinelli's singing voice was provided by the Polish soprano, Ewa Malas-Godlewska and a countertenor, Derek Lee Ragin, who were recorded separately then digitally merged to recreate the sound of a castrato. Its musical director was the French harpsichordist and conductor Christophe Rousset. The musical recording was made at the concert hall, the Arsenal in Metz, with the orchestra Les Talens Lyriques.
The movie is not dubbed into English; it is spoken in French and Italian, with subtitles. This matches fairly well the actual situation at the time, when French was the lingua franca of Europe, much as English is throughout the world today, and most letters, commentaries, official documents and books were written in that language, even well beyond the borders of France. In many scenes, Riccardo Broschi speaks to his brother in Italian, while Carlo replies in French; also, the English court visiting the Covent Garden Theatre speaks in French to the actors and composers, and that also is fairly acceptable from an historical standpoint.
Controversy over historical depictions
Although settings, scenery, costumes and props are true to the era, the producers also took many liberties with the physical appearances of the characters. According to some critics, the Broschi Brothers do not look anything like their original portraits show them to be and they maintain modern hairstyles and mannerisms. Nicola Porpora's disheveled, unshaven and scruffy appearance, although credible for a commoner of the era, does not make any sense for a person of his status from that period. Additionally, none of them ever wears a wig, which was almost mandatory for anybody, gentry level and up, well into the second half of the 18th century.
The film's "R" rating MPAA is due to depictions of adult themes and sexuality. The movie is available on a Region 1 DVD with a spoken track in French and Italian with a little English, and English and Spanish subtitles.
A director's cut Blu-ray edition is available from France, Italy or South Korea, but all of them lack has English subtitles. The Korean version also includes a DVD-Audio 2.0 disc.
Japan is set to release a Blu-ray of the movie in September 2013.
Korea also has a Region 3 director's cut on regular DVD but also with no English subtitles, just French and Korean. A regular edition WITH English subtitles is also available in Korea.