Let me weep for my cruel fate
And sigh after freedom!
And let me sigh
Sigh after freedom!
Let me weep for my cruel fate
And sigh after freedom!
May sorrow, out of pity, break the ropes of my sufferings,
of my sufferings, out of pity.
And let me sigh after freedom!
The first time I heard this piece, I was 19 years old. I was studying in London then. Lascia Ch’io Pianga was composed by George Frideric Handel.
I did not understand a single word of it then, but it moved me deeply – stirring my soul in ways other art forms could not. It was there and then that I discovered my affinity with music, and began my enduring love affair with Opera. I still do not understand every single word unless I google for them. But just listening to this sublime music gives me a great deal of pleasure. It is likened to meditation for me.
Music is a form of relaxation for me, as well as an uplifting motivator – all depending on what type of music it is. It can be Opera or Trance 🙂
The above video is taken from the movie, Farinelli. It is a 1994 biographical film about the life and rise to stardom of the Italian opera singer Farinelli. He was considered to be one of the greatest castrato singers of all time. Castrato singers were unique because they could hit the high notes like a Soprano, and the lower notes like a Contralto. I used past tense here, because Castrato singers no longer exist. Their exquisite voice was achieved through castration of the singers before puberty. As explained in wikipedia –
Castration before puberty (or in its early stages) prevents a boy’s larynx from being transformed by the normal physiological events of puberty. As a result, the vocal range of prepubescence (shared by both sexes) is largely retained, and the voice develops into adulthood in a unique way. Prepubescent castration for this purpose diminished greatly in the late 18th century and was made illegal in Italy in 1870.
Among the castrati, none was more famous than Farinelli. He could sing both the male and female roles, exhibiting the richness for the deep low notes and the exuberance of the high notes with ease and elegance. His voice was so penetrating and mesmerising than even Handel was eager to engage him to sing for his company in London. So, in order to produce that unique voice of Farinelli for the movie, they had to employ the talents of Polish soprano, Ewa Malas-Godlewska and a countertenor, Derek Lee Ragin. Both artists recorded their ‘singing’ separately, and was then digitally ‘merged’ to recreate Farinelli’s special voice.
In the video, Farinelli sings Lascia Ch’io Pianga for Handel. And while he is singing, he laments his own cruel fate – having all the talent, fame and fortune, but never the true ownership of his manhood. In the film, Farinelli never got over losing his ‘manhood’. His masculinity was a metaphor for many things. Though women were literally throwing themselves at him, he could not give them the ‘pleasure’ they needed, nor could he experience the true sense of ‘intimacy’ with them on a physical level. Farinelli felt emasculated since young, because all the decisions were made for him, and not by him. As he became even more famous, people only saw what they wanted to see of him – the star castrato to entertain and delight them with his voice. Sometimes, they even demanded that he perform regardless of how he would feel about it. They felt that they owned his gifted voice, and that he should be happy to sing for them. Here, the word: ‘they’ represents Farinelli’s father, brother, friends, sponsors, composers, fans and etc.
To this day, listening to Lascia Ch’io Pianga brings tears to my eyes. I see many parallels of Lascia Ch’io Pianga to our every day life and the fate of the world today. At times, it seems that we are losing little bits of ourselves amid the chaos of living. We all grieve in our own way, for several different reasons. At the end of the day, we ask ourselves – what truly remains of us and our lives?
While Farinelli may not have felt empowered all his life, despite appearances – we have every opportunity to NOT allow any self-defeating thoughts to encroach on our sanctity and sanity. Because we know so much more now. At this day and age, it is impossible NOT to know if we CHOOSE to learn, educate ourselves and find out more. There is simply no excuse because technology has made it near effortless for us to discover more.
So, whatever we choose in life – always make it a point to choose the path that leads to our real liberation. What good would it do to be trapped in a gilded cage like Farinelli – imprisoned by the beauty of his talent, the limitations of society’s mind-set and attitudes thereby limiting his own great potential?
Can you imagine if Castrato singers were not outlawed today? How many more young will suffer that same fate just because we, as a larger community, insist on a certain ideal of singing?
How many more ideals do we need to enforce, impose and coerce others into being?
How much more of our lives and souls do we want to castrate?
The beauty of life is to enjoy and appreciate the extraordinary splendour in everyone and everything around us.
Yes, beauty exists in everyone and everything. We simply need to learn how to appreciate them without judging.
It would be wonderful if we could value people as who they are, and not what we expect them to be.
As always, start your own brand of fearless living and love the life you live. Above all, love yourself.