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The Castrato
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The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds

Martha Feldman

Abstract

The Castrato is the first book to explore in depth why innumerable boys were castrated for singing between the mid-sixteenth century and late nineteenth century. It shows that although the practice formed the foundation of Western classical singing, it was birthed from an unlikely and historically unique set of desires—public and private, aesthetic, economic, and political. In Italy, castration for singing was understood through the lens of Catholic blood sacrifice, as expressed in idioms of offering and renunciation and, paradoxically, in satires, verbal abuse, and even the symbolism of the c ... More

Keywords: castrato, bel canto, sacrifice, voice, Handel, reproduction, gift, gender, Farinelli, body

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780520279490
Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2015 DOI:10.1525/california/9780520279490.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Martha Feldman, author
University of Chicago