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Castrati in Western Art Music, Part 1: Historical Perspective and Musical Importance

Peter W. Vogelaar
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 13 Number 3: Page 94 (September 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 follows the expansion of the castrato's popularity throughout Europe, to its decline beginning in the eighteenth century. The discussion includes economic factors, and the influence of opera's popularity. Part 2 will look 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 will be mentioned, including a discussion of sexuality.

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