The Castrato’s Medal

Paris Opera House

Napoleon bestowed upon Girolamo Crescendi, the Paris Opera Company’s great bel canto star, the Cross of the Legion of Honor. While this pleased the opera lovers, the same was not true of the army. One staunch old warrior complained to the beautiful singer Giuseppina Grassini (with whom Napoleon was wont to console himself for Josephine’s infidelities): “It’s unheard of! To think that this decoration, intended for the bravest of the brave who have suffered wounds on the battlefield, should be given to a castrato!” Replied Grassini: “And how about the wound Crescendi endured for art’s sake? Doesn’t that count?”

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Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 4:22 PM  Leave a Comment  
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