I have been listening to more opera on the youtubes lately. Below is the aria that I have had stuck in my head. The first is an excerpt from the movie Farinelli. The aria starts at 3:14. Of course, there are no real castrato singers any more (although Michael Maniaci might come close), so this voice had to be improvised with a countertenor and a female soprano mixed together. The singing in the movie is probably like baroque singing actually was, full of flourishes and trills. The second youtube is sung by a treble who sings it beautifully even though he can’t quite make all the trills. I think of the two excerpts provide a nice contrast between the baroque style and I guess modern style of singing. The ornate style of baroque singing demonstrates the prowess of the singers, but without all that musical ornament, the simpler singing of the boy feels like it has a greater emotional connection with the music.  For me it’s akin to the modern preference for unpainted statuary when the ancients painted it and decorated it. Not that I don’t like a little baroque frippery.

This isn’t necessarily a castrato aria, but it seems to be well occupied today by countertenors and trebles. I don’t find the versions on youtube sung by female sopranos as affecting.

Libretto and translation with some of the repeats omitted:

Lascia ch’io pianga la dura sorte,
E che sospiri la libertà!
E che sospiri, e che sospiri la libertà!
Lascia ch’io pianga la dura sorte,
E che sospiri la libertà!

Let me weep over my cruel fate,
And sigh for my lost freedom!

Il duolo infranga queste ritorte
De miei martiri sol per pietà.
De miei martiri sol per pietà.

May the pain shatter the chains
of my torments just out of mercy.

Lascia ch’io pianga la dura sorte,
E che sospiri la libertà!
E che sospiri, e che sospiri la libertà!
Lascia ch’io pianga la dura sorte,
E che sospiri la libertà!

Let me weep over my cruel fate,
And sigh for my lost freedom!

The first line is different in the Farinelli excerpt but it seems to translate the same way:

Lascia ch’io pianga mia cruda sorte
Let me weep over my cruel fate

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