Auld Reekie cas­trato

BBC Music Magazine - - Musical Destinations -

A su­per­star fugi­tive who be­came an hon­orary Scot, Giusto Fer­di­nando Ten­ducci (above) was born poor in Siena in the 1730s, cas­trated as a child and be­came world­fa­mous for his fab­u­lous so­prano voice. But a sex scan­dal made him in­fa­mous. In 1766 he mar­ried his 15-year-old stu­dent in Ire­land, and be­cause he was a cas­trato the mar­riage was tech­ni­cally il­le­gal. He es­caped im­pris­on­ment by flee­ing to Ed­in­burgh. A flam­boy­ant, high-spend­ing, law-dodg­ing Ital­ian eu­nuch in the som­bre streets of En­light­en­ment Scot­land? Turns out Ten­ducci was a hit. He sang reg­u­larly at the Ed­in­burgh Mu­si­cal So­ci­ety, whose mem­bers were mostly freema­sons. Catholic su­per­star fugi­tive se­duces the ma­sons: just an­other Ed­in­burgh anom­aly.

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