Monday, April 2, 2012

Countertenors and historical popularity of the higher voice range

As I read the articles about the Glee characters Kurt and Blaine, I realized that I could not think of a grown male singer that still contained the high Countertenor voice of Kurt. It reminded me of the Italian castrati that were popular in opera for years up until the late 19th century. I looked up the history of the castrati and found that their popularity diminished greatly in the 1700s and it was actually made illegal in Italy in 1870. The popularity of the countertenor singing voice actually developed in response to the decline of male castrati in music. Today, countertenor voices are used in opera to fill roles originally written for castrati characters.

I found it interesting that voices and musical acts similar to Kurt and Blaine’s were popular in the 1920s, a time when pop culture was more open differences than many are today. One could argue that the 1920s was the most accepting time for artists in American history. Additionally, I find it interesting that the voice roles that Kurt most closely falls under had been popular in different cultures for centuries until the Great Depression in America.

Kurt and Blaine are the only openly gay teenage characters that I can think of in pop culture today. Many shows whose primary audiences are teenagers do not address issues of gender as openly as Glee. The popularity of the show, Kurt and Blaine’s relationship, and Kurt’s historically popular voice role shows that today’s culture is ready to be more accepting and ready for the change in pop culture television for teens.

No comments:

Post a Comment