Tales from the Hidden Grove

Tales from the Hidden Grove
"Amongst the finest short story writers in the UK right now" ~ Black Pear Press

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Two Carlos

         Charles Edward Stuart, "Bonnie Prince Charlie"

On 24 January 1705, Carlo Maria Michelangelo Nicola Broschi was born in Apulia, Italy, into a noble family that had fallen on hard times.  Fifteen years later, on 31 December 1720, Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart was born in Rome, into the deposed royal family of Scotland, England and Ireland.  Since he grew up in Italy, he may well have been known to childhood friends as Carlo.  These two Carlos are better known to history as Bonnie Prince Charlie and the castrato singer Farinelli.

                   Carlo Broschi, "Farinelli"

Both died in the 1780s, but who had the better life?  Charles Edward Stuart was fêted and adored as a child in Rome.  He had a successful military career, and believed in his destiny to reclaim his family's throne.  Carlo Broschi was castrated at a young age, and had to work and study hard to achieve success as a singer.  However, by 1734, he was at the height of a career which made him rich and adored throughput Europe, but he never let it go to his head.  He had a successful second career as a music therapist to Philippe V of Spain, ultimately holding a high position in the Spanish court.

By contrast, after the failure of the Jacobite rising of '45, Charles Stuart became increasingly frustrated and bitter.  He turned to drink, forcing his mistress Clementina and daughter Charlotte to abandon him.  He became increasingly unpopular with his former allies, both Jacobite supporters and European royalty.   And his marriage to a Belgian princess failed due to his alcoholism and violence.  He died - fat, ugly and alcoholic - at the age of sixty-seven.

Carlo Broschi died in retirement in Bologna, still rich and famous.  Of course he could have no children, and he was lonely, but he was still respected and visited by many people.  He took consolation in music and prayer, and in his lifelong friendship with the poet Metastasio - his "twin" - who died only a few months after him.  He was seventy-seven years of age.

I know which Carlo I would rather be.  What about you?