The Castrato and His Wife

The Castrato and His Wife
Helen Berry
Reviewed by Jennie Box
Thu, 22/09/2011

From Italian peasant stock, castrato opera singer Tenducci became an 18th-century superstar. His marriage to his pupil Dorothea required huge sacrifices from them both, and their love provoked family rejection and press ridicule. However, Dorothea wrote an account of their relationship which softened public opinion, and Tenducci’s celebrity spared them more opprobrium. But having overcome so much, their marriage didn’t last – prurient interest in the state of the Tenducci’s marriage arose when Dorothea asked for an annulment. Masculinity, sexuality, religion and marriage in the 18th century are some of the themes explored by Berry. A love of opera isn’t necessary to enjoy this fascinating book.

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