The rise and fall of the Castrati

Preview by Paul Nelson

TRUE or Falsetto, a new operatic comedy that unearths the secret stories and under-sung arias of the infamous Castrati singers, opens at the Drill Hall 2 on April 3, at 8pm, after having received its critically-acclaimed world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival 2002.

The evening takes an irreverent peek at the shocking tale of the rise and fall of the Castrati from their early days in the obscurity of the Vatican, to the decadent glory of the Opera house and back again.

Spanning five Centuries of musical history, and featuring music from the likes of Monteverdi, Handel and Saint Saens, as well as music hall ditties from the Nineteenth Century, True of Falsetto explores the myths, magic and perplexing private lives of the mysterious 'angelic monsters'.

Acclaimed falsetto singer and renowned Italian cabaret artist, Ernesto Tomasini, digs deep into the past to uncover a quirky, off-beat comedy that will surprise, inform and entertain opera and theatre lovers alike.

After showing off his 4-octave range in the Italian cabaret circuit and the legitimate theatre and television, Ernesto moved to London in 1993, where he was asked by Lindsay Kemp to play his 'leading lady' in Variete at the Hackney Empire and on a UK tour.

Subsequently, he devised the musical show, The Other Woman, with Kate Dimbleby; a huge success at the Tricycle Theatre and at the Edinburgh and Bath festivals.

Ernesto has won Best Female Impersonator of 1999 at the London Astoria, and has taken his one-man shows to the ICA, the Riverside Studios and the Tron Theatre (Glasgow). The Techno-Castrato has reached cult status and is a regular feature in London's alternative cabaret circuit. He has sung on BBC Radio 4, London Live and BBC World, at the Purcell Room and at the Royal Albert Hall.

Future productions in this exciting season at the Drill Hall include: Elizabeth Mansfield's Portraits in Song (March 8-30), MTL's brand new version of The Marriage of Figaro (May 11 - June 8), Irregular Records artists performing a short season of English Chansons (March 20-30), F/Z Company's Throat (April 5-27) Barb Jungr's The Ballad of Norah's Ark (May 1-10) and MTL's Cabaret and Screenings season (May13 - June 8).

True or Falsetto, a Secret History of the castrati by Lucy Powell, Directed by Amid Lahav WITH Ernesto Tomasini. Presnted by Ernesto Tomasini in association with Martin Sutherland at The Drill Hall 2 April 3-17 Tues Thurs 8pm, Fri and Sat 6.30pm and 9pm, Sun 5pm. Tickets 020 7307 5060.

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