Live Opera – Dress me as a woman, I’ll still be a man

Live Opera – Dress me as a woman, I’ll still be a man


norman lebrecht

February 25, 2023

Disguise and transvestism have been an essential part of opera plots from the Venetian origins of the genre.  In line with this tradition, the story of Achilles on the Island of Scyros inspired more than 30 compositions for voice based on Metastasio’s libretto of 1737. The Italian composer Francesco Corselli (1705-1788) was a key figure in Spanish opera. As Kapellmeister of the Royal Chapel of Madrid for nearly 30 years, he was the principal supplier of opera to the Spanish court. Some of these were under the artistic direction of the famous castrato Farinelli.   First seen in 1744 at the Real Coliseo del Buen Retiro in Madrid, Achille in Sciro was composed to celebrate the marriage of the Infanta of Spain, María Teresa Rafaela, to the Dauphin of France.

Slippedisc, courtesy of OperaVision, brings this live stream from Madrid, this production staged by Mariame Clément and conducted from the harpsichord by Ivor Bolton, is a milestone in the recovery of Spain’s musical heritage.

Licomede is sung by Mirco Palazzi, Ulises by Tim Mead, Deidami by Francesca Aspromonte, Teagene by Sabina Puertolas and Achille/ Pirra by Franco Fagioli.

The Plot: Thetis, mother of Achilles, disguises her son as a woman to hide him in the court of King Lycomedes of Scyros and prevent him being sent off to the Trojan War. The plan begins to come apart when Achilles, incapable of subduing his virility, falls in love with Princess Deidamia.

Available on 25 February 2023 at 1930 CET /1830 London / 1330 NY


  • Serge says:

    I beg your pardon, but the concept of “Hosenrollen” in opera and early theater has really nothing do to with transvetism.

    • Just saying says:

      Your point is correct, of course, but don’t blame the author here – the first paragraph was lifted almost word for word from the Teatro Real website (English version). It’s what passes for journalism these days.

  • caranome says:

    Art imitates life. Now it’s “I was born a man, but now I’m a woman. I have deep psychological/physiological problems, but I dare you to say I’m crazy/deviant.”

    • Bone says:

      And nothing but downvotes (currently). Some wokesters in this forum.
      Anyway, this is absolutely not a case of trans anything – just a mother trying to disguise her son. If she had encouraged him to chop off his man parts, take estrogen, and claim to have menstrual cycles…then we’d see a more common example of trans. And by common I absolutely do not mean normal.

  • EagleArts says:

    Transvestism is a terribly outdated term. Cross dressing is more appropriate.

    “Transvestic fetishism is a psychiatric diagnosis applied to men who are thought to have an excessive sexual or erotic interest in cross-dressing; this interest is often expressed in autoerotic behavior. It differs from cross-dressing for entertainment or other purposes that do not involve sexual arousal. Under the name transvestic disorder, it is categorized as a paraphilia in the DSM-5.”