Castrati.

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I watched a fim called ‘Farinelli Il Castrato’, which is the life story of a boy who, at the age of 7, was castrated in order to preserve his unusually beautiful voice.

He then went on to become the the most amazingly famous 18th century opera singer, using the professinal name of Farinelli.

I would most thoroughly recommend it….the film that is, not the forcible castration of young boys who sing beautifully!
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This subject interested me, so I have been finding out more about the whole practice.

It is hard to believe that people were prepared to have young boys castrated in order to preserve their perfect soprano voices, which would have been lost if their puberty had been allowed to progress naturall, and their voices had broken.

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So, when the castration was carried, out it stopped the larynx undergoing the effects of puberty.

The other effects of the operation were that the arms and legs grew very long, and also the rib bones.

This last effect allowed a huge lung capacity.

Castrati could sing as soprano, mezzo-soprano and contralto, as well as in the higher male singing range.

Such practices went far back into history to ancient civilisations, and there have been many castrati choirs.

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Castration was outlawed in Italy and France in the late 1800’s.

In Rome itself, the use of castrati lingered until 1903, when it was officially stated that only boys were allowed to sing, until their voices broke naturally.

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There are actually recordings of a gentleman called Allessandro Moreschi,made in the early 1900,s, and he was probably the last true castrato.

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There are men who sing today in voices very similar to the true castrati.

One such is a male soprano called Radu Marian.He is from a former soviet republic called Moldavia and he was already performing at the age of 7.

His voice is said to be due to an endocrinological disorder, which is natural.
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There is also Phillipe Jarousky, a French counter tenor.
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Amo Raunig, Austrian male soprano.
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And Vitas….watch Vitas for a while ‘cos he’s a bit different.
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I hope you liked the voices.

I certainly do.

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J.X.

PS.  For another modern take on this subject.

You can get a hardcover deluxe book and a 2 CD limited edition of Cecilia Bartoli singing the beautiful music inspired by the Castrati voices.
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The release date of… Sacrificium… is 12th October 2009 but you can pre-order now at….

www.ceciliabartolionline.com

She is amazing, with such passion.

I very much enjoyed the created picture of Cecilia’s head, superimposed upon a male body, which was used to illustrate this fascinating subject.

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The book looks incredibly interesting.  It is everything you could want to know about the fascinating subject.

Hear and read all about the lost world of the Castrati.

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This has to be ‘The Present’ for the person who has everything, and surely a new experience for the avid music lover.

Beats a scarf and socks, or the old ‘huge box of chocolates’, any Christmas Day.

It includes 11 world premiere recordings.

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PPS.  Thank you U Tube…what would we do without you!

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