Farinelli (1994) - Rotten Tomatoes

Farinelli (1994)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

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.

Watch it now


Stefano Dionisi
as Farinelli/Carlo Broschi
Enrico Lo Verso
as Riccardo Broschi
Caroline Cellier
as Margareth Hunter
Jacques Boudet
as Philippe V
Marianne Basler
as Countess Mauer
Graham Valentine
as The Prince of Wales
Delphine Zentout
as The Young Admirer
View All

Critic Reviews for Farinelli

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (8)

Artistry abounds in every aspect of the film.

February 13, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Glossy and histrionic, salacious and empty, Farinelli reduces a fascinating story to a series of hissy fits and leering glances.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

There's something too artificial and highfalutin about the movie.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Because Carlo Broschi, the 18th-century castrato singer known as Farinelli, was himself such an exotic and sensationalistic figure, you'd think that creating a dull movie out of his flamboyant life would be next to impossible. Think again.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Farinelli, one of the 1995 Oscar nominees in the foreign film category, is onto an interesting story, all right, but it leaves us feeling, like some of Farinelli's lovers, that something is missing.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

A fascinating, if occasionally overly melodramatic, recreation of a period when Baroque music ruled Europe.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Farinelli


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

Farinelli Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features