Synopses & Reviews
The opera singer Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci was one of the most famous celebrities of the eighteenth century. Mozart and J. C. Bach both composed for him. He was nothing less than a rock star of his day, with a massive female following. He was also a castrato.
Ranging from the salons of princes and the grand opera houses of Europe to the remote hill towns of Tuscany, Helen Berry's compelling account of the unconventional love story of the castrato and his wife offers fascinating insight into the world of opera and the history of sex and marriage in Georgian Britain. Berry vividly describes how women flocked to Tenducci's concerts and found him irresistible. Indeed, his young singing pupil, Dorothea Maunsell, found him so irresistible that she eloped with him. A huge scandal erupted and her father persecuted them mercilessly. Embroiled in debt, the Tenduccis fled to Italy, and the marriage collapsed when she fell in love with another man.
Telling the remarkable story of Tenducci for the first time, The Castrato and His Wife is both an exhilarating read and a perceptive commentary on the meaning of marriage, one that still resonates today.
"A fascinating account of how masculinity, femininity and marriage were being reshaped in 18th-century Europe just when modernity was taking shape."
"Utterly enthralling.... Writing clearly, judiciously, and sympathetically...Berry rescues an eighteenth-century scandal from oblivion."
"Berry deploys her considerable skills as a historian and writer to re-create with panache the world in which Dorothea and Tenducci both flourished and floundered."
--The Sunday Times
About the Author
is Reader in Early Modern History at Newcastle University. She is the author of numerous articles on the history of eighteenth-century Britain, and is the co-editor (with Elizabeth Foyster) of The Family in Early Modern England
Table of Contents
1. The Pig Man Arrives in Monte San Savino
2. Schooling Angels in Naples
3. The Castrato in London
4. Fancying Tenducci
5. A Dublin Scuffle
6. The Elopement
7. Married Life
8. The Trial
A Note on Sources
Appendix: Deposition of Tomasso Massi