New York | 2h 30m | Already closed

Farinelli and the King

From 56 critic and 531 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Great singing, Absorbing, Great staging, Entertaining

About the show

Oscar and three-time Tony winner Mark Rylance returns to Broadway in this new drama about Spain's King Phillippe V's bond with a legendary castrato.  More…

'Farinelli and the King' is inspired by the fascinating true story of Philippe V (Rylance), a Spanish monarch on the brink of madness who finds unexpected solace in the voice of world-renowned castrato, Farinelli. Soon, Farinelli and the King forge a powerful connection, and the celebrated singer must make a difficult choice: return to throngs of adoring fans or perform forever for an audience of one. Like Broadway’s 'Twelfth Night' and 'Richard III,' this contemporary work is presented in the signature style of Shakespeare’s Globe – traditional baroque instruments are performed live in a gallery above the stage; the audience enjoys intimate seating with several rows onstage; and the story is told by candlelight. 'Farinelli and the King' comes to Broadway following sold-out runs at Shakespeare’s Globe and on London’s West End.

2h 30m | Already closed | Belasco Theatre (Midtown W)


"It’s the best play and the best production of the season so far...Yes, it has a beginner’s nicks – unnecessary use of anachronism, a sometimes heavy-handed symmetry. But in the end, it’s wildly entertaining in the moment, and resonant in the aftermath. It’s not only fun, it’s really about something...And then there’s Rylance...Meticulously off-handed, it’s funny and sad, a performance to be savored in a totally engaging little triumph of a show." Full Review

Woman Around Town

“Rylance, arguably the best actor in theater today, is once again lighting up the Broadway stage aided and abetted by a skilled company…It’s engaging, surprising, thoughtful, and humorous…The play’s ending reflects but doesn’t depict reality. Here, however, it makes perfect dramatic sense. An extraordinary journey has been shared. Rylance is masterful…Director John Dove gives us a voyeur experience. Every character has presence.” Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is what they mean by theater magic: the spellbinding performance of a great actor in a fairytale setting, leaving the audience besotted with melancholy and joy...And, besides all this to munch on, 'Farinelli and the King' is enchanting to look at...The last scene is achingly beautiful, one of those rare theater experiences in which you feel yourself to be in the presence of so much truth and beauty that you want to see it all over again." Full Review

Limelight Magazine (AU)

"Not only does van Kampen’s gentle exploration of identity, responsibility, sanity and perception turn out to be one of the more profound historical plays of recent years, it also gives audiences a chance to bask for two-and-a-half hours in the dramatic talents of Mr. van Kampen (aka actor Mark Rylance) and the vocal beauties of Iestyn Davies...If at times 'Farinelli and the King' seems so full of ideas it must burst, the final scenes pulls matters together skilfully." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“Everything about this production feels old fashioned, and I mean that in the best of possible ways...The story is simple and charming, and even though it’s not captivating, it does truly engage. It has a glow and a quiet intimacy that is unquestionable and stunningly beautiful...The complexities and depth Rylance, and the company bring is equal to the beauty that engulfs us, leaving us feeling quenched and delighted by the exquisiteness of an evening of beautiful theatre making." Full Review

The New York Times

"Strangely enchanting...The language of the script doesn’t always flow melodically. But van Kampen has an illuminating appreciation not only for period music but also for the gap between artists and their art...Watching Rylance’s Philippe experience Farinelli’s voice, we hear what he hears. And an actor and a singer temporarily turn a night at the theater in an anxious city into an Eden beyond worldly care, all the more precious for its evanescence." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“The music of Handel gives the play bursts of beauty via the splendid voice of Davies and his accompanying musicians...The playwright excels in giving Rylance lines that can be poetic, humorous, and also indicative of his strange, wandering mind...Rylance is expert at casting revealing glances, visually indicating vapidity, or exhibiting fascination with Farinelli...The entire production is a visual and aural triumph, with Rylance reigning as the central attraction.” Full Review


“Well played all around, the production is blessed with the preternaturally naturalistic Rylance...The play moves from a tightly woven first act to a looser second...Rylance constructs his portrayals with astounding subtlety...Dove guides the cast with a steady hand such that the more broadly comical and stylized characters fit in with remarkable ease...Enchanting and funny...a wonderful opportunity to see one of our century’s finest actors in a role custom-crafted for his talents.” Full Review


“As the king, Rylance gives yet another brilliant performance...Rylance keeps you guessing what the hell is going through that addle-brained head of his...Davies beautifully handles the Handel...Theater at its purest...The simple values that were evident in the Rylance-enhanced productions of ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Richard III’ four seasons ago are once again in evidence for all to see and hear. If you missed those two, at least capture this third jewel of the triple crown.” Full Review

Drama Queen NYC

“Essentially a vehicle for two of the world’s greatest talents, actor Mark Rylance and operatic countertenor Iestyn Davies...Rylance is unsurprisingly magnificent...Davies singing, however, is the soul of this love letter to the power of music, and he is every bit as terrific...Dove’s marvelous staging, set among Jonathan Fensom’s sumptuous set and costumes, rises to the level of his collaborators...I have a minor quibble with the script itself, which falters toward the end.” Full Review

The Huffington Post

“An enjoyable piece of magic for theatergoers during this holiday season. It is a delightfully charming play...The Belasco is transformed into a dazzling setting in the Kingdom of Spain... Davies doppelganger to actor Crane’s tender Farnelli spoiled the audience for any other countertenor they will ever hear. Rylance’s guileless interpretation of King Phillipe proves to serve the suffering King by eliciting compassion and patience.” Full Review

Cabaret Scenes

"Come for Rylance. He's more than good. Stay to the end for Davies. He was magnificent." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Dove’s staging gives the breadth and depth of Ms. Van Kampen’s script the 'space' it needs to unfold and embrace the audience with its pathos and ethos. The scenes between Farinelli and the King brim with effusive energy...Crane brings an authentic vulnerability to his role as Farinelli that counterpoints brilliantly with the tempered desperation of Rylance’s Philippe...It is clear to the audience how Farinelli and the King walked together in distinction and in imprisonment." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Rylance dives deep inside wacky Philippe in a performance as empathetic as it is seemingly spontaneous...A strange and slow-burning theatrical experience in many ways and seemingly focused on just one relationship, actually turns out to be a remarkably complicated exploration of the most important question in the arts of the last 500 years, i.e., who gets to go? And, of course, you get the incomparably immersed Rylance, that most live of performers." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

“Visually the production could not be more exemplary...The staging is vivid and inventive...It’s not for those looking for more conventional structure or more contemporary problems...But for those who enjoy boarding a flying carpet to take them to a time and place with which we may have little connection, other than fellow human beings seeking a peaceful passage through the one lifetime they have at their disposal, I’m certain they will be happy to sign on for the ride.” Full Review


“Dove’s production itself is an eyeful, the cast working the stage before showtime...The royal décor is gilt-edged and gorgeous...Rylance’s King is dotty, hilarious...Two men play Farinelli: Crane when he’s speaking and Davies when he’s singing, the latter reaching precise and beautiful sounds on a variety of Handel arias...Rylance is the main attraction, commanding the show with his supple wit, weirdness, and edge of danger as he tries to hold onto his elusive mind." Full Review


"Wonderfully intriguing...Rylance masterfully commands the mood swings of a manic-depressive, going from an introverted man hesitating over every word to a violent aggressor...Really, though, this is a play about the curative qualities of music. While it would be satisfying enough to simply embrace Rylance’s mastery and the glorious works of (mostly) Handel, there is a more significant message...Music can make you feel better." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"The show is well directed by John Dove and designed by Jonathan Fensom...Rylance mutters and babbles gently and then goes in for a jab like a verbal fencer...Although Rylance is worth the price of admission alone, Farinelli is the focal character...Farinelli feels disconnected from his singer-persona and having two people emphasizes the separation. Davies’ counter-tenor voice is incredible; his singing is haunting and it transports the audience." Full Review

Berkshire Fine Arts

"Phillippe's madness could be more strongly drawn by the playwright. It is hard to feel his dilemma in the play's more muted mode. The parallel between suffering mental pain and the physical pain of castration inflicted on Farinelli is often referred to. Yet neither man is given a chance to fully express these pains...Davies brings down the house...A testament to the power of music to trump all else. It is wonderful theatrical entertainment.” Full Review

The Modernist Beat

“‘Farinelli and The King’ is a not work of power, but of peace...This is exactly the kind of theatre we need...The governing idea here is that the magic of the theatre can offer sanctuary and solace...Van Kampen skimps on the details of Farinelli’s harrowing childhood and his complex relationship with his brother. It hardly matters. One goes to ‘Farinelli and the King’ to have the weight of the twenty-first century taken off the shoulders for a couple of hours and to find solace in beauty.” Full Review


“Filled with many marvelous performances, and the production values are impressive...The play suffers from an abundance of provocative themes...The acting is just short of perfect...Nothing on stage matches the haunting beauty of the nine arias sung by countertenor Davies...Wonderful performances that provoke and tantalize the mind. But, ultimately it is the haunting music that connects you to the idea that the human search for spirituality can only be achieved through an act of art.” Full Review


“While the play entertains and the performances hold one's interest, there are holes in the script. We learn nothing of the causes or beginnings of Philippe's illness. Although we know that he is the grandson of the French King Louis XIV, we learn nothing about his history or his first marriage. The only thing we learn about Farinelli is that he is Italian and that his composer brother arranged for his castration when he was ten to preserve his angelic voice on the death of their father.” Full Review


"It's clear that Van Kampen has taken enough liberties with historic facts to allow her play to champion the healing effect of music...The playwright's vision for having two Farinellis heightens the dramatic point/counterpoint of Farinelli and Phillippe's divided selves. Fortunately the shared casting fits the mirroring of the characters' psyches very well...More an enjoyable, fanciful entertainment than a play likely to join the canon of Shakespeare's memorable king plays." Full Review

AM New York

"It may contain arias from obscure Baroque operas and candlelit chandeliers, but the play is, at heart, a straightforward and sentimental 'bromance'...It is also a celebration of the power of music to overcome emotional and mental instability. Rylance, who excels at playing sad and strange characters, gives a full-bodied and endearing performance that combines volatile behavior and over-the-top comedy with gentle contemplation." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"A feast for the eye and ear...Crane, in particular, is the perfect foil for Rylance. Against the star's edgy, rambunctious performance, Crane's Farinelli is calm, centered, and quite content to be at a remove from the limelight. Van Kampen does her best work in contrasting these opposites...While Mr. Rylance clearly dominates the stage, 'Farinelli and the King' would not work nearly so well without the collaborative dance of Mr. Crane and Mr. Davies that brings Farinelli richly to life." Full Review

Absorbing, Ambitious, Exquisite, Great singing, Great acting

See it if Story of castrato singer (1705-1782), privately served music therapy to King Phillipe V (Mark Rylance); sung by incomparable Iestyn Davies.

Don't see it if you don't like early opera, or history, skip this one.

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Must see

See it if Great acting, costumes, stage, thought provoking

Don't see it if You want a high energy musical that is light and fluffy.

Clever, Exquisite, Masterful, Must see, Riveting

See it if you want to see a stunning British production that has drama, humor, and a marvelous countertenor

Don't see it if a great theater-going experience isn't for you; you can't get tickets before it closes

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You believe in the healing power of music.

Don't see it if You don’t like plays that take place in the 18th century.

Also Mark Rylance is excellent as Philippe V, King of Spain.

Great acting, Great staging, Delightful, Absorbing, Must see

See it if You love Mark Rylance or have never seen Mark Rylance. See it if you want to have some rare enchanted type of fun.

Don't see it if You don't like period pieces. Or arias sung by castratos.

Absorbing, Delightful, Enchanting, Masterful, Great singing

See it if you enjoy great acting and beautiful music! Mark Rylance is marvelous! So is singer Iestyn Davies.

Don't see it if you don't like baroque music, fantastic singing and extraordinary acting.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great singing

See it if you like intelligent writing and great acting

Don't see it if you just need to see a "no-brainer"

Riveting, Great singing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if We came for Mark Rylance, who was great, and were blown away by Iestyn Davies singing and the staging and writing. FABULOUS

Don't see it if This is a MUST SEE.

Absorbing, Great acting, Exquisite, Masterful

See it if If yoiu like Mark Rylance this is a must. The play and the acting are sensational. Theif set and costumes are fabulous a woi

Don't see it if If you can’t listen to opera,this will be a problem,other then that. It’s a must see

Enchanting, Great acting, Great staging, Masterful, Great singing

See it if An opportunity to see one of the world’s finest actors in a jewel of a production. Amusing yet haunting, an unforgettable theater experience

Don't see it if You didn’t like Amadeus, this might not appeal to you. If you don’t like history or period pieces, pick another play.

Absorbing, Delightful, Enchanting, Funny, Great acting

See it if You're a musical-theater buff and want to see something truly original, not commercial.

Don't see it if You only like blockbuster shows.

Clever, Ambitious, Great acting, Great singing, Enchanting

See it if You love a thoughtful premise that beauty humanity and the healing nature of music. Wonderful acting. The magical sound of a counter-tenor

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with challenging material, spoon-fed resolution for every premise raised.

Down-to-earth, Enthralling, Fast-paced, Riveting, Sublime

See it if you want to see characters you care about

Don't see it if you can't tolerate coarse language

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you have 2 brain cells to rub together.I NEVER give shows 100,but this is a must see.Rylance is brilliant,play well written,staging is great

Don't see it if you are looking forward to Sponge Bob.This show is very funny, also very touching, and so brilliantly done. It really is a gem. Go see it!

Absorbing, Enchanting, Exquisite, Great acting, Great singing

See it if you love great theatre.

Don't see it if You despise baroque operatic music or period pieces

Also I have seen at least 100 shows since Jan 1, and thousands in my lifeti... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Great writing, Great singing

See it if You would like to experience a magnificent play. Totally moving ...A MUST SEE....

Don't see it if I would see it no matter what...

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if I love this time period and the music and singing is GREAT. Parts are funny

Don't see it if If you cannot handle opea singing

Absorbing, Enchanting, Entertaining, Exquisite, Great acting

See it if You value the intricacies of polished acting and appreciate the beauty of fine storytelling.

Don't see it if If you hate opera or are expecting a musical. This is not a musical. This is a fun show about a king who went mad and how music saved him.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great singing, Profound, Enchanting

See it if you love a good show and great singing..I'm a big fan of Farinelli and was not disappointed. I must go back for more!! BRAVO I SAY!

Don't see it if you're not a fan of opera and period shows then this is definitely not for you.

Exquisite, Funny, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You enjoy incredible acting, something different, historical, classical, opera, great story, funny brilliantly done

Don't see it if You don't enjoy classical, opera, historical.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you like watching one of the greatest actors of all time Mark Rylance performance with his usual command of the language and stage;inspiring

Don't see it if You do not like Handel music, countertenors, historical drama, candlelit stages; splendid costumes, and watching history come to life evenly

Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You are interested in period theatre productions. Brilliant casting. The set creates a tableau-like setting. A must see.

Don't see it if If you aren't interested in history or period pieces or sung classical music.

Great acting, Masterful, Intense, Riveting

See it if you love Mark Rylance; you enjoy not knowing where the plot takes you; you enjoy multi-layered and subtle but powerful performances.

Don't see it if you don't like Mark Rylance or don't enjoy historical fiction.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Must see, Great writing

See it if you want a truly amazing, indescribable theatrical experience. Be prepared to fall in love with Mark Rylance as his king captures your heart

Don't see it if you're looking for a big, splashy, traditional Broafway musical!

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Riveting, Must see

See it if you want to see outstanding acting, music, and set design

Don't see it if you want to see a traditional Broadway musical or want to see something set in modern times.

Also Thought-provoking and masterful portrayal of a king suffering from men... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (18)