(b Andria, Puglia, Jan 24, 1705; d Bologna, Sept 16, 1782).
Italian singer, choreographer and collector. He was castrated as the result of an accident at an early age, following which he dedicated himself to singing, studying with the great teacher Nicola Antonio Porpora (1686–1766), who took him to Rome in 1722. He enjoyed a series of triumphs in the musical circles of Naples and Bologna and at the courts of Vienna and London.
In 1737 he went to the Spanish court in Madrid, where he was warmly welcomed by Philip V and the queen, Isabel Farnese, and his success there continued under Ferdinand VI, from whom he received the title of Royal Servant (Criado Real), an annual salary of 1500 English guineas and in 1750 was further honoured with the Order of Calatrava. He was an influential and cultivated figure in court circles; the King, who was prone to hypochondria, found relief only in Farinelli’s singing. His privileged position enabled him to help the impoverished family of the Italian architect ...