Oscar E Moore

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The Last Castrato – Way Off B’way

November 17th, 2010 by Oscar E Moore

At the Connelly Theatre way over at 220 East 4th Street a new play written by Guy Fredrick Glass, The Last Castrato has just opened and it’s well worth the trip to see this illuminating and interesting theatrical piece about Alessandro Moreschi – the last of the “mutilated singing machines”.  That is, a young man who had been castrated at an early age so that he would forever have the vocals of a woman and could sing in the Vatican Choir for the pleasure of all who where religious enough to be allowed to hear.

Based on truth but made theatrical by Mr. Glass and directed by John Henry Davis who only falter in the last moments of the play the story is fraught with Vatican intrigue, hypocrisy, bitterness, betrayals, longing, bigotry, laughter, glorious singing (Mr. Joseph Hill) and some superb acting especially by the altogether unrecognizable Mr. Doug Kreeger who turns in a spectacular performance as fellow castrati Cesari who welcomes the new singer Moreschi (a fine Mr. Jacob Pinion) and immediately and tragically becomes besotted.

Even though Moreschi accepts his situation he doesn’t agree with Cesari on all accounts while being befriended by his mentor Mustafa (Mr. Frank Anderson) who is driven crazy by the complicated politics involved. 

Moreschi lives only to sing.  He is neither male nor female.  He is trying to discover who he really is and why it is that he has these strange feelings for Cesari and for Lillie (Ms. Melissa Miller) a divorced woman who wants to take singing lessons and is the companion to the aggressive, rich and oh so naïve Mrs. Bristed – an Astor who has found religion (Ms. Bethe B. Austin) – whose character adds much amusement as she is totally in the dark as to what a castrato is, thinking perhaps it’s a musical term.  She is delightful in her innocence.

The smarmy Cardinal Sarto (Mr. Liam Torres) who later becomes the smarmy Pope Pius X who abolishes dance and popular music causes the many obstacles to befall Moreschi along with Perosi (Mr. Jonathan Tindle) director of the Papal choir.  Together they plan to extinguish “the capons”.

In Act II Moreschi is asked to make some recordings for a company with a new machine called a gramophone.  Mr. Abe Goldfarb who was an almost invisible Guard in Act I suddenly becomes alive and blossoms in the role as salesman, talking the reluctant Moreschi into making a wax master.  Upon hearing his own voice he suddenly understands that he has an extraordinary instrument and despite his being a castrato he can now reproduce himself via his recordings.   It’s wonderful until playwright and director have him lose all dignity by cavorting around in Mrs. Bristed’s red feather boa.

Perhaps they’ll do a remix on the ending.

Photo:  Ashley Anderson

www.lastcastrato.com   Tickets $18.00  1 800 838 3006  event #125160 Through Dec 4th

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