Music Revealed with Martha Feldman

Music Revealed with Martha Feldman

May 15, 2020 | 4:30PM

The Castrato Phantom: Masculinity and the Sacred Vernacular in Twentieth-Century Rome

A lecture with Professor Martha Feldman

This talk explores what Professor Martha Feldman calls the "sacred vernacular" to puzzle out the conditions in twentieth-century Rome that mark the uncomfortable anomaly of the castrato, a man castrated for singing. The “sacred vernacular” refers to the peculiar Italian and especially Roman tendency to domesticate the sacred by means of the everyday. Among the consequences of this cultural formation is the figure of the sacred monster. The castrato is a marked instance of it, but the death of the last castrato Alessandro Moreschi, coincident with the rise of fascism, initiates a decades-long period of masculinist tropes and obliteration of the castrato’s memory. In this presentation, Feldman explores the "sacred vernacular" and memory of the castrato through the cultural works of iconic twentieth-century artists Frederico Fellini, Anton Giulio Bragaglia, Pietro Germi, and others.

About "Music Revealed: A Public Humanities Lecture Series"

The University of Chicago Department of Music is excited to announce the launch of a streaming humanities lecture series titled Music Revealed, bringing captivating insights in music straight to your home. With multimedia presentations delivered via Facebook Live, University of Chicago Music faculty will peel back the layers on the history, theory, and anthropology of music, sharing their research and answering your questions.

Join us for the first lecture featuring Assistant Professor of Music Jennifer Iverson on Friday, May 8 at 4:30 pm CDT. Professor Martha Feldman will present on May 15, and Professor Philip V. Bohlman takes the virtual stage on May 22.