Back in the time of George Frideric Handel the great, German composer of the opera Julius Caesar vocalists were superstars. Much in the same way that todays athletes are revered for their rare skills on the field, opera singers with incredible vocal ability achieved a notable celebrity. Such was the way with Handels Caesar (not to be confused with Shakespeares play of the same name). The part of Caesar was originally helmed by a castrato, a male soprano who was castrated in order to allow him to reach the highest vocal ranges and stay there for longer. The process took place before adulthood, effectively stunting the singers growth and changing him physically as well. The strange practice was made illegal in Europe in the 1870s, but its hard not to see striking parallels between the castrati of the 1700s and their modern day counterparts: Baseball sluggers like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds whove shriveled their own manhood in the name of physical perfection. Florida Grand Operas production of Handels Julius Caesar hits the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) Thursday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., and, fortunately for all, Caesar will not be played by a castrati. Tickets cost $21 to $200. Call 954-462-0222, or visit www.browardcenter.org.
Thu., May 15; Sat., May 17, 2008