Farinelli (1994)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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This lavishly produced European costume melodrama chronicles the life of Farinelli the 18th century's most renowned castrati singer whose remarkable voice covered 3 1/2 octaves. He could also sing a continuous series of 250 notes and hold a note for a full 60 seconds. The songs he sang were so complex that no one has been able to sing them since. To recreate his voice, the voices of counter-tenor Derek Lee Ragin and soprano Ewa Mallas Godlewska were combined and digitally enhanced. When Farinelli was just a choirboy, he witnessed the suicide of a fellow member who warned him not to let the masters castrate him. But Farinelli, then Carlo Broschi, had no choice. His father told him he could only sing the songs of his brother Ricardo, a composer noted for his complex and flamboyant songs. The brothers are exceptionally close and even share sexual experiences with women. But when they encountered Handel obstacles arose. In London two theaters were at war. One theater belonged to Handel, the other to his former voice teacher. Farinelli sings at the latter and is quite successful, but he then decides to earn Handel's respect and sing less florid music. He breaks from his brother, sings Handel's songs and becomes recognized as a true artist.
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Stefano Dionisi
as Farinelli/Carlo Broschi
Enrico Lo Verso
as Riccardo Broschi
Elsa Zylberstein
as Alexandra
Caroline Cellier
as Margareth Hunter
Jacques Boudet
as Philippe V
Marianne Basler
as Countess Mauer
Graham Valentine
as The Prince of Wales
Pier Paolo Capponi
as The Father
Delphine Zentout
as The Young Admirer
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Critic Reviews for Farinelli

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (7)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 31, 2009
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Artistry abounds in every aspect of the film.

Full Review… | February 13, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

December 31, 1999
The New Republic
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Farinelli


This movie, based in an era gone by poses an interesting account of the life of Farinelli, yet I can't stop myself from feeling like it is a giant ripoff of Amadeus! Both of the brothers are played to be gigantic fops. I could almost hear that stupid tittering laugh from Amadeus. The inferior brother like the much better predecessor is play to be the villain who only uses his brother's horribly mutilated "gift" as a means to an end when it was in reality, his father. I can't stand the histrionics presented in this film. If you're a fan of Opera or pretty pictures go ahead and watch this film, but otherwise just watch Amadeus, at least that is funny!

aodhan young
aodhan young

Beautiful, lush, sumptuous...all words that can be used to describe various aspects of this film. My only issue would be that the love between Farinelli and the woman who would later be his wife was barely explored at all - they go from arguing and ignoring each other to later living with each other in Spain, she being ready to have 'his' child. I could've done with a bit more of his childhood as well.

Kylie B
Kylie B

Super Reviewer

The colourful and uninhibited life of "il castrato" Farinelli and his brother Riccardo Broschi, two men who shared their music and their women. An operatic biopic with impressive production values and a dreamy score. Not as big as Milos Forman's Amadeus, but still, a picture with immense beauty and pleasant erotism.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

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