Digging up the facts about Castrati

Italian scientists exhumed the body of the famous castrati singer Farinelli:

Surely there are more recent bodies to study. I recall several times on this board where it’s mentioned that the last castrati was actually recorded (and one recording is available on the internet). For that matter, there asre certainly eunuchs of various types alive today. Are they hoping for something unique from this?

Here’s the amazon.com page for the recording of Moreschi, the last castrato. Bear in mind that this recording was made when the singer was well past his prime, and the quality of the recording is less than ideal.

Here is the one full recording available on the net. At least, I think there’s only one. I believe one source describes it as “uniquely horrifying”, which would be about right. Keep your lights on.

But… they exhumed the body after all those centuries? :dubious: What are they trying to gain from this?

Dr Ringo: Hmm. He appears to have no balls.
Dr Bingo: Yup. No balls.
Dr Dingo: Nobody could possibly have fewer balls than he.

Hmmmmmm. Well, I guess they could study bone structure or something.

There is pretty much only one kind of “eunuch” today, though - the countertenor. (Okay, so there’s some guys born with endocrinological disorders, but they’re rare, and there’s also testicular cancer, but that doesn’t give you a high voice.) Or maybe not. Want to hear an interesting story? I know a guy whose 5th grade classmate was a castrato. He’d been selected for some castrato choir in Russia (:eek: ), got snipped, then emigrated to America before anything came of it. The guy’s only in his thirties, so they’re still around.

One of the comments from the page FlyingRamenMonster linked makes me curious. What is the scientific difference between falsetto and the sounds created by castrati? Cuz ain’t nobody ever chopped mine off, but I could reach every note (granted, without any professional training, so it’s probably for the best that my roommate wasn’t here) that guy sang.

Projection. Singing in falsetto, you may be able to hit the notes, but you won’t be able to belt them across a concert hall like the castrati were known to do. There are probably differences in timbre, too, but we’ll never know since the only recordings we have are of the rather unhelpful Moreschi.