The Sistine Chapel Choir
Tonight I saw the Sistine Chapel Choir perform in honor of the 500-year anniversary of a street. A truly modern Roman event if such a thing is possible. The choir performed in the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini for about 45 minutes — their beautiful music echoing throughout the baroque basilica on the edge of Via Giulia, created in 1508 by (War)Pope Julius II. The Sistine Chapel Choir itself has a long and complicated history, culminating most recently in the twentieth century papal bull that replaced castrated men singing falsetto with boys, who can actually sing that high.
So the choir was an interesting mix of middle-aged men and prepubescent boys. And while I could certainly engage and appreciate the sound, I had no idea what they were singing. It occurs to me even though the choir is a changing entity, it is maintained and preserved like all art in possession of the Vatican — beautiful, extravagant, and minimally pertinent to the lives of modern Italians or Catholics.