Caffarelli [Gaetano Majorano]

(1710 -1783)

Mezzo-soprano castrato singer. He derived his stage name apparently from Domenico Cafarelli, who funded his education and was perhaps also his first teacher. He studied in Naples with Porpora during the early 1720s; in 1726 he made his debut at Rome in Domenico Sarro's Valdemaro. His fame spread rapidly throughout Italy during the 1730s; in addition he sang at the King's Theatre, London (1737-38), where he created the role of Handel's Serse, and at Madrid (1739), Vienna (1749), Versailles (1754), and Lisbon (1755). After 1756 he sang little, though in 1770 Burney heard him and praised his "expression and grace." He was notorious for his unpredictable behavior, both on and off stage. On stage he is reputed to have sung his own preferred versions irrespective of what his colleagues were doing, mimicking them while they sang their solos and sometimes conversing with members of the public in their boxes.

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