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date: 14 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Chapter 18 delineates issues surrounding castrati as performative beings. It explores the intersubjective dimensions of castrato performance onstage and off, including the perspectives of tourists who followed castrato appearances at opera houses while on the grand tour or encountered them in salons and churches, with special attention drawn to early modern issues of cultural tourism, celebrity culture, and singing. The chapter then explores scholars’ preoccupations with castrati since about 1980, when they began to read castrato voices through the thickly psychoanalytic lenses of Freud and Lacan and the post-structural views of Barthes, Foucault, Bakhtin, and Derrida. Finally, it examines a more recent “machine turn” in castrato studies, manifest in (1) collaborations between musicians, sound engineers, and film/TV producers who have attempted to reconstruct the castrato voice; and (2) a scholarly move toward thinking about mechanism in historical connection with ways that early modern castrati were produced and staged.

Keywords: castrato, performance, psychoanalytic, mechanism, celebrity, singing

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