Farinelli, Carlo Broschi


The greatest tenor of his age, perhaps the greatest that ever lived, was born in Naples. His real name was Broschi and he sprang from a noble family of that city. He studied under Porpora, and while very young made his debut in Italy under the name of II Ragazzo (the boy). In 1722 he made a triumphant success of Porpora's opera, Eumene. Five years later he placed himself under Bernacchi's instruction in Bologna, after Bernacchi had beaten him in a competition. He sang frequently in Vienna, and in 1734 he was drawn to London upon the advice of Porpora and Handel's enemies, and his great success there is declared by Riemann to have caused Handel's retirement from the operatic field to devote himself, from then on to oratorio. There was no branch of his art that Farinelli did not carry to the highest pitch of perfection. His career in London was a continous triumph for the three years he was there, and he is said to have made $30,000 a year, an immense sum for the times in which he lived. His singing is said to have restored to health Philip V. of Spain, was was subject to fits of melancholy, and Farinelli's influence at the Spanish court was considerable, till Charles III. ascended the throne in 1759, when the singer was driven out of Spain. He then went to Bologna, and lived there in retirement.