Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The last Castrato Allessandro Moreschi 1858-1922

Today the idea of the Castrato is so far removed, but in the 18th and 19th centuries is was common practice. The voice of the soprano was almost always the castrato, it was not till the 19th century that women began to sing soprano roles. It was common in Italy to make male sopranos.....

Let me explain if you do not know it already what a male soprano was....A castrato was a man, who was as a boy soprano so good, so damn good...... that they removed his testicles so he would retain that soprano voice forever!!
I find that awful! !!! My thoughts are if you were a young boy in Italy and had a stellar voice...you had better run away! ........ie....GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!

However the castrato was popular in their day...it was not till the mid 19th century that everyone finally stopped it all.

The Vatican was a strong supporter of castratos and used them in their choir......what is more amazing is that the last surviving castrato was recorded on disc during the period of 1902-1904.

The recordings were made by the Gramophone and Typewriter Company who went to the Vatican to record not only Professor Moreschi but also the Vatican Choir which was also joined by Moreschi.
There were a number of recordings made, but most were of inferior quality as they were made not in a recording studio, but on location.

The castrato voice was very odd one, it was a manly, female voice. It could be light and lovely and also very powerful and bleating.

Emma Calve made a recording once in which she stated how she sang was taught by a castrato.

I will be doing a story on the recording process of the time but for the moment I will give a short bit of info on what the acoustic recording process did to the voice.


Let's put it this way....when you made an acoustic recording ....you sang or played into a recording horn. The recording process did to the voice amazing things......The best way to show how the acoustic process worked is to make a fist in front of your mouth and sing through your fist...You will hear a constrained sound not unlike singing through a garden hose. This is what the acoustic process did to the voice. So we have to be careful in our judgment....But pitch is pitch. In pitch Moreschi seemed ok, but as a great soprano he leaves much to be desired. Moreschi was the last of the castratos, he was not the greatest. But he is the only one we have on record. So when you listen to early recordings keep this in mind.


Moreschi seems to have had quite a career...He sang at the funerals of two of Italy's Kings, Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I.

He retired from stage in 1913, although he remained director of the Vatican Choir till his death in 1922.

So today in our lives talking about music and musicians....and in time many people question if a singer is real or not...In the age of acoustic recording the voice of the last of the "man made" singers was captured and preserved for posterity......It would never be seen again......and when we think of religion and caring and love...How could they allow such an attack on a human being.

It was the church...and of course we know they represent God and all that was good....so what do they care if they castrate a few men, it was to glorify the greatness of God. I always love to look at how nasty the church was and see how much they say others are nasty today!!!

I love hypocrites

All I can say is that it stopped...............................Amen

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