Farinelli is a 1994 biographical film about the life and career of the 18th-century Italian opera singer Carlo Broschi, known as Farinelli, considered the greatest castrato singer of all time. It stars Stefano Dionisi as Farinelli, Enrico Lo Verso as his brother, composer Riccardo Broschi, and was directed by the Belgian director, Gérard Corbiau.
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,
Although settings, scenery, costumes and props are true to the era, the producers also took many liberties with the physical appearances of the characters. The Broschi brothers do not look anything like their original portraits showed 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, do 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.
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.
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...