castrato

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castrato (It.) . Castrated. Male sop. or cont. whose v. was preserved by castration before puberty. In great demand in It. opera in 17th and 18th cents., the voice being brilliant, flexible, and often sensuous. Giovanni Gualberto Magli, a castrato, sang Music and Proserpine (and perhaps Hope) in f.p. of Monteverdi's Orfeo (Mantua 1607). Other famous castrati were Senesino, Farinelli, Caffarelli, Guadagni, and Velluti. Castrati survived in Vatican chapel and Roman churches until 20th cent. Recordings exist of Alessandro Moreschi (1858–1922), male sop. of Sistine Chapel. Wagner wanted the male soprano D. Mustafà to sing Klingsor in Parsifal.

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castrato Male voice in the soprano or mezzo-soprano register, produced in adult males by castration during boyhood. Castratos were much used in operas in the 17th and 18th centuries and in music for the Roman Catholic Church. The most famous castrato was Farinelli. See also countertenor

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castrato (kăsträ´tō) [Ital.,=castrated], a male singer with an artificially created soprano or alto voice, the result of castration in boyhood. The combination of the larynx of a youth and the chest and lungs of a man produced a powerful voice of great range and unique sound. Castrati were especially popular in churches and opera in Europe during the 17th and 18th cent. The most celebrated castrato was Carlo Broschi Farinelli.

See R. Freitas, Portrait of a Castrato (2010).

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cas·tra·to / kasˈträˌtō/ • n. (pl. -ti / -tē/ ) hist. a male singer castrated in boyhood so as to retain a soprano or alto voice.

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