Play Ball

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 today’s 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 Handel’s Caesar (not to be confused with Shakespeare’s 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 singer’s growth and changing him physically as well. The strange practice was made illegal in Europe in the 1870s, but it’s 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 who’ve shriveled their own manhood in the name of physical perfection. Florida Grand Opera’s production of Handel’s 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
Thu., May 15; Sat., May 17, 2008
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John Linn