Seguidilla of the Femminiello

Last week I pitched a movie idea to the English National Opera and my project was selected! Below is the research I undertook to come up with the concept.

We were asked to choose a song from one of the ENO productions and I choose an extract from Carmen. This inspired me to talk about the tradition of the “Femminielli”: an ancient manifestation of the third gender, exclusively in the city of Naples. In the 19th century, The Femminielli were usually the eldest son, of the very poor families, that would take care of the house and others. As a result, this son would assume female looks and behaviours. Later in life, he would be taken into a rich family’s house in the belief that he would bring good luck. In post-war Italy, the Femminielli became associated with sex work in the old neighbourhood of Quartieri Spagnoli. Every year, in during the Easter period, the Femminielli would perform a fictional marriage, “The Matrimonio dei Femminielli”, and parade through the streets while the rest of the city joined in a display of human warmth and acceptance (that is Naples at heart!).

Styleframe from the last scene. Copyright Pafo Gallieri-2019

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