It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Ascending from above the stage on a chariot, wearing an elaborate and vaguely Aztecan golden headdress, Farinelli caused women to swoon as he sang operatic arias. He used handkerchiefs to wipe the sweat from his brow, then threw the silks to his audience. He was responsible, one listener tells him, "for my first musical orgasm." He was also responsible, in my opinion, for Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and Liberace, whose Vegas acts are the direct descendants of Farinelli's European concert tours, and for Elvis' late period, as well as David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and all the other peacocks of rock 'n' roll. He founded a style.
Carlo Broschi (1705-82), known as Farinelli, was the most famous castrato of his age - one of those unfortunate boys whose testicles were removed before puberty to prevent his sweet, pure voice from ever changing. "The combination of the larynx of a youth, and the chest and lungs of a man produced a powerful voice of great range and sound," according to my encyclopedia. But as a playmate warns him before he is hauled away for the operation, "Your death is in your voice." (At the time, "death" had many meanings, especially in romantic poetry.) There is something about a sexually ambiguous man that drives some women into a frenzy; his very unavailability is a goad. In "Farinelli," we see how the singer's irresistible lure was used in a bait-and-switch routine with his untalented brother Riccardo.
Farinelli would seduce a female admirer, and then Riccardo would supply the missing parts.
Was Farinelli happy in this lifestyle? Yes, apparently he was.