Premiere in Vienna

Hollywood star John Malkovich rocks the State Opera

09.07.2024 15:41

Opera diva Cecilia Bartoli and Hollywood star John Malkovich discuss the life of the famous castrato Farinelli in "Their Master's Voice" at the Vienna State Opera on Wednesday evening (July 17). 

Wherever "La Bartoli" performs, she is celebrated like a pop star. Now she is trying to top her triumph as Cleopatra, a few days ago at the State Opera in the guest performance of the Monte-Carlo Opera:

Cecilia, grande dame of baroque opera, is appearing in a super show "Their Master's Voice" with Hollywood star John Malkovich as part of the "Barocchissimo" festival: They commemorate the once idolized Neapolitan castrato Farinelli (1705 to 1782), who was appointed "Court and Chamber Musician" in Vienna by Emperor Charles VI and received 1000 guilders a year in salary.

John Malkovich in a large robe (Bild: © Marco Borrelli)
John Malkovich in a large robe
A kiss for the Bartoli (Bild: © Marco Borrelli)
A kiss for the Bartoli
John Malkovich (Bild: © Marco Borrelli)
John Malkovich

Why should two icons like Malkovich (70), one of the most influential film actors of our time, and Bartoli be interested in Farinelli, the "greatest singing miracle of all time", of whom chroniclers report that "everyone is drawn to him by a magical spell". "By no means just his beguiling singing," says Malkovich. Together with author and director Michael Sturminger, he created a cleverly amusing musical theater performance for Monte-Carlo - which premiered in April - about Farinelli, who underwent castration before puberty in order to prevent his voice from changing and to preserve his wonderful soprano voice. "A horrible practice to mistreat boys in this way, absolutely inhumane," says Malkovich.

Cecilia Bartoli (Bild: © Marco Borrelli)
Cecilia Bartoli
John Malkovich (Bild: © Marco Borrelli)
John Malkovich

"We tell the story of the ageing - fictional - countertenor Jeff Himmelhoch, who claims to have found Farinelli's memoirs," says Michael Sturminger, explaining the project. "Jeff turns it into a piece of musical theater full of tongue-in-cheek and wit - and fails. Theater on the theater! We are also concerned with questions about the psyche of castrati and who should create their roles today, i.e. much-discussed gender issues in the artistic world."

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