Roger Freitas

Roger Freitas

Professor of Musicology

Interim Department Chair (Fall 2020)
Faculty associate, Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies




Roger Freitas received his PhD in music history from Yale University. He had previously earned an MM (with performer’s certificate) in early music, vocal performance, from Indiana University; and a BM in vocal performance from Dominican College of San Rafael.  He has taught in the Musicology Department at Eastman since 1998.

His research interests include the vocal music of seventeenth-century Italy, especially Rome and especially the cantata; the place of musicians in webs of patronage; the role of gender construction in music and in the lives of musicians; and issues of performance practice in all periods, but especially the nineteenth-century.

He is currently working on a critical edition of Luigi Rossi’s opera Il palazzo incantato (1642), with libretto by Giulio Rospigliosi (the future Pope Clement IX) and based on episodes of Ariosto’s Orlando furioso.  In summer 2018, his essay “Singing Herself: Adelina Patti and the Performance of Femininity” appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society and later earned the H. Colin Slim Award of the American Musicological Society for outstanding article by a scholar beyond the early stages of the career.

His book, Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage, and Music in the Life of Atto Melani (2009) was awarded the Philip Brett Award of the LGBTQ Study Group of the AMS. In 2015 the book was published in Italian translation by ETS (Pisa). He has also published an edition of the Complete Cantatas of Atto Melani with A-R Editions.

He has brought out articles in the Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music, Journal of Musicology, Music and Letters, Journal of the Royal Musical Association (JRMA), and Opera News, as well as in collections on “musical voices” and Italy’s eighteenth century. He has presented papers at the annual meetings of the AMS, International Musicological Society, Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, Royal Musical Association, and Modern Language Association. He has also spoken at more specialized conferences, including the Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music, the Utrecht Early Music Festival, Attending to Early Modern Women—and Men (Univ. of Maryland, 2006), and Italy’s Eighteenth Century: Gender and Culture in the Age of the Grand Tour (Clark Memorial Library/UCLA, 2002). 

He has won the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome (where he resided in 2003–04) and an NEH Fellowship (2000–01). In 2006 he received Eastman’s Eisenhart Award for Excellence of Teaching.

Prof. Freitas currently serves as president of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music (2019-21). He has also served on the Board of Directors of the American Musicological Society, where he chaired the Communications Committee.  Likewise, he served on the AMS Program Committee for the annual meeting in Louisville (2015), the Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Dissertation Fellowship Committee (2010–13), and the Noah Greenberg Award Committee (2007–09). He has been a member of the board of directors of the American Handel Society since 2002.

At the University of Rochester, he has been both chair (2012-16) and graduate advisor (2001-12) of the Musicology Department at Eastman, and he continues to be a faculty associate at the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies. Prior to joining Eastman in 1998, Freitas held a position as a visiting lecturer at Wellesley College (1997–98). He also performed as a soprano and alto adjunct member of Chanticleer (1984–86).

Works / Publications


  • Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage, and Music in the Life of Atto Melani, New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009; paperback edition, 2014).
    Italian translation: Vita di un castrato: Atto Melani tra politica, mecenatismo, e musica, pref. Sara Mamone, trans. Anna Li Vigni, Studi culturali, supplemento no. 2 (Pisa: ETS, 2015).


  • Review of L’Orfeo, by Luigi Rossi, musical direction by Raphaël Pichon, staging by Jetske Mijnssen, Pygmalion, recorded at L’Opéra National de Lorraine (Nancy), February 7 and 9, 2016, Arles: Harmonia Mundi HMD 9859058.59, 2017, DVD and Blu-ray disc, Performance Practice Review (forthcoming).
  • “Singing Herself: Adelina Patti and the Performance of Femininity,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 71, no. 2 (2018): 287-369.
  • “The Art of Artlessness, or, Adelina Patti Teaches Us How to Be Natural,” in Word, Image, and Song, vol. 2, Essays on Musical Voices, eds. Rebecca Cypess, Beth L. Glixon, and Nathan Link, Eastman Studies in Music (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2013), 213-42.
  • “Metaphors in Music: Two Musical Topoi in Mid-Seicento Rome,” Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music 15 (2013 [dated 2009]):
  • “Sex without Sex: An Erotic Image of the Castrato Singer,” Italy’s Eighteenth Century: Gender and Culture in the Age of the Grand Tour, ed. Paula Findlen, Wendy Wassyng Roworth, and Catherine M. Sama (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press, 2009).
  • “The Eroticism of Emasculation: Confronting the Baroque Body of the Castrato,” Journal of Musicology 20 (2003): 196-249. (The issue actually appeared in May 2004.)
  • “Toward a Verdian Ideal of Singing: Emancipation from Modern Orthodoxy,” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 127 (2002): 226-57.
    Reprinted in Classical and Romantic Music, ed. David Milsom, Ashgate Library of Essays on Music Performance Practice (Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2011).
  • “Singing and Playing: The Italian Cantata and the Rage for Wit,” Music and Letters 82 (2001): 509-542. (Received Jack Westrup Prize for best contribution to Music and Letters in 2001.)
  • “Singing Handel: How Changing Tastes Have Dictated Performance Style,” Opera News 61 (July 1996): 14-17.


  • Atto Melani, Complete Cantatas, Collegium Musicum: Yale University, series 2, vol. 15 (Middleton, Wisc.: A-R Editions, 2006).