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Castrati in Western Art Music, Part 2: Selection and Musical Training: Physical and Psychosocial Implications

Peter W. Vogelaar
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 13 Number 4: Page 146 (December 1998)

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Abstract: In recent years, there has been an increased interest in the phenomenon of the castrato. This two-part article discusses the castrato against the religious, cultural, social, and artistic background of his own time. Part 1 followed the expansion of the castrato's popularity throughout Europe, to its decline beginning in the eighteenth century. Part 2 looks at training conditions, as well as the intervention most often used, and its physical effects, with special emphasis on the voice. In addition, the psychological changes are mentioned, including a discussion of the controversial question posed in the existing literature: did castration alter the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of the castrato?

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