Castrato

A castrato (Italian, plural: castrati) is a man with a singing voice equivalent to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto. The voice is produced by castration of the singer before puberty, or it occurs in one who, because of an endocrinological condition, never reaches sexual maturity.

Castration before puberty (or in its early stages) prevents a boy's larynx from being transformed by the normal physiological events of puberty. As a result, the vocal range of prepubescence (shared by both sexes) is largely retained, and the voice develops into adulthood in a unique way. Prepubescent castration for this purpose diminished greatly in the late 18th century and was made illegal in Italy in 1870.

As the castrato's body grew, his lack of testosterone meant that his epiphyses (bone-joints) did not harden in the normal manner. Thus the limbs of the castrati often grew unusually long, as did the bones of their ribs. This, combined with intensive training, gave them unrivalled lung-power and breath capacity. Operating through small, child-sized vocal cords, their voices were also extraordinarily flexible, and quite different from the equivalent adult female voice. Their vocal range was higher than that of the uncastrated adult male (see soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, sopranist, countertenor and contralto). Listening to the only surviving recordings of a castrato (see below), one can hear that the lower part of the voice sounds like a "super-high" tenor, with a more falsetto-like upper register above that.

Castrati were rarely referred to as such: in the 18th century, the euphemism musico (pl musici) was much more generally used, although it usually carried derogatory implications; another synonym was evirato (literally meaning "emasculated"). Eunuch is a more general term, since historically many eunuchs were castrated after puberty, castration thus having no effect on their voices.

Read more about Castrato:  History of Castration, Castrati in The European Classical Tradition, Castrati in Opera, Decline, Modern Castrati and Similar Voices, Famous Castrati

Other articles related to "castrato":

Cloth Road - Characters - Pre-Colonet/Colonet
... While under the employment of Royal Castrato, she used illegal drugs to possibly enhance her performance ... She owns an official dress from Royal Castrato, which she later gives to Fergus as a template for Jennifer's dress ... Gustav Former cloth designer of Royal Castrato who was one of the group of designers/scientists chosen to create the cloth for the world ...
Temistocle - Roles
... Elisabeth Wendling Lisimaco (Lysimachus), Athenian ambassador and friend of Temistocle soprano castrato Silvio Giorgetti Serse, King of Persia (Xerxes I of Persia) bass ...
Orlando Finto Pazzo - Roles
... Brandimarte, Orlando's friend, created by Andrea Guerri (soprano castrato) Ersilla, queen and sorceress, created by Margherita Gualandi, called "la Campioli" (soprano) Argillano, Ersilla's champion and secretly in ...
Creso (Sacchini) - Roles
... Euriso, Ariene's betrothed soprano castrato Giuseppe Aprile "Sciroletto" Cratina soprano Francesca Gabrielli Ciro soprano castrato Antonio Muzzio Sibari soprano castrato Giuseppe Fabrizi ...
Griselda (A. Scarlatti) - Roles
... Role Voice type Premiere Cast Conductor Nicola Fabio Gualtiero King of Sicily castrato (contralto) Antonio Bernacchi Griselda his wife castrato (sopr ...