Personalities | Giovanni Battista Velluti | Early Romantic | Opera

1780–1861, Italian

Giovanni Battista Velluti, the Italian soprano castrato, created Rossini’s only castrato role, as Arsace in his Aureliano in Palmira (1813), but infuriated the composer with his pretentious and showy ornamentation. After that Rossini wrote his own ornamentation. Velluti also created the role of Armando in Meyerbeer’s Crociato in Egitto (‘The Crusader in Egypt’, 1824); Meyerbeer wrote the opera especially for him. Velluti made his debut at Forli in 1800. He went on to perform at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples (1803), Rome (1805–07), La Scala, Milan for most years between 1808 and 1814 and later in Vienna, St Petersburg and the Haymarket, London. Despite his good looks and what Stendhal called his ‘prodigious gifts’, Velluti shocked London audiences who were no longer familiar with castrati or their voices. However, women found Velluti fascinating and he had numerous mistresses. Velluti, the last great castrato, retired in 1830, and became a farmer.

Introduction | Early Romantic | Opera
Personalities | Carl Maria von Weber | Early Romantic | Opera
The Voice | The Castrati | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
The Voice | The Training of the Castrati | Late Baroque | Opera
Houses & Companies | La Scala, Milan | High Romantic | Opera


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