London Theater Comes to Broadway in “Farinelli and the King”

Written by | Entertainment, Stage

Farinelli and the King

Oscar and Tony winner Mark Rylance will return to Broadway in the critically acclaimed Farinelli and the King.

The play, written by Claire van Kampen and directed by John Dove, comes to New York after sold out performances at Shakespeare’s Globe and in London’s West End. It is presented in the signature style of Shakespeare — with traditional baroque instruments played live in a gallery above the stage. The play is based on the story of Spain’s Philippe V, an 18th century king who suffered from mental health issues, and Farinelli, a famous castrato. (During that period, it was still commonplace for boys with promising singing voices to be surgically altered so that they never reached puberty and would retain a higher vocal range for their entire lives.) When Philip’s queen, desperate to cure her husband’s depression and insomnia, hears Farinelli’s legendary singing voice, she brings him to the monarch. And indeed, Philippe is so captivated by Farenilli’s performance, he begs the singer to stay and become the court musician. Thus Farinelli is left with a choice — to spend a life of solitude in service to a powerful man, or seek fame and fortune in the opera houses of Europe. The play glowingly illustrates how art, specifically music, can the power to heal. Appropriately each performance includes arias by Handel — including several first sung by Farinelli in the 1730s.

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Last modified: September 23, 2019