Are we all castrati? Venanzio Rauzzini: ‘The father of a new style in English singing’

Robertson-Kirkland, Brianna Elyse (2016) Are we all castrati? Venanzio Rauzzini: ‘The father of a new style in English singing’. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Though the castrato has been absent from the operatic stage since the nineteenth century, this voice is often described as the mysterious link in understanding the vocal techniques attributed to bel canto. The mystery lies in the fact that the voice of the operatic castrato cannot be heard by modern ears; and yet its legacy can be seen in the vocal tuition of several successful opera singers at the turn of the nineteenth century. What is unusual about this period is that some of the most successful singers of the day, including Nancy Storace, John Braham and Elizabeth Billington were British and shared the same vocal teacher. The castrato Venanzio Rauzzini (1746-1810) began his career as a primo uomo on the continent and while he established himself in various areas of musical activity, his main contribution and legacy was as a vocal teacher. During his residency in Britain from 1774 until his death, he trained several leading British professional singers who were the stars of opera in London and on the continent. They each demonstrated a use of techniques associated with the castrato vocal aesthetic and popularised a new vocal style, which can be traced to Rauzzini.
Through this thesis, I will draw attention to the importance of Rauzzini’s impact on vocal teaching practice in Britain and his wider influence on the development of vocal style. I will demonstrate that Rauzzini should be considered part of the vocal teaching canon to which Pier Francesco Tosi (c.1653-1732), Nicola Porpora (1686-1768) and Manual García II (1805-1906), three other foreign vocal teachers, who were resident in Britain, already belong. By examining exactly what the expected vocal aesthetics were for all singers, castrato, non-castrated male and female during the period in which Rauzzini was active, I will demystify the castrato technique and provide a more tangible understanding of what this encompassed, demonstrating that many of these techniques were learned, performed and popularised by other voice types such as the female soprano and the male tenor.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: music, singing, castrati, castrato, education, voice, vocal, John Braham, Nancy Storace, Elizabeth Billington, Gertrud Mara, Rosemond Mountain, Charles Incledon, Venanzio Rauzzini, Mozart, Haydn, tuition, lesson, technique, style, castration, arts, women, gender, Britain, Italy.
Subjects: L Education > LA History of education
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > MT Musical instruction and study
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Supervisor's Name: Butt, Professor John
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr Brianna E Robertson-Kirkland
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7399
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2016 12:17
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2016 08:12

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