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Title: Moreschi: The Last Castrato (Life Times)
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About this title
Alessandro Moreschi (1858-1922), known during his life as the ‘Angel of Rome’, is remembered today as the only castrato singer to have made recordings. Historically he was the last representative of the centuries-old tradition of castrating boy singers in order to preserve their high-pitched voices into adulthood - an act of cruelty which produced some of the greatest singers the world has ever known.
Behind the extraordinary sound of the voice of ‘the last castrato’ lies a strange and lonely life lived in the shadow of great events and great institutions, a personality glimpsed by inference and
allusion. During his lifetime his singing was universally praised: the great tenor Giacomo Lauri-Volpi described Moreschi’s voice as ‘flutingly soft, light, spontaneous, unforced and uncontrived’. More recent critics have spoken of it as both ‘fascinating’ and ‘one of the saddest things in the world’.
Throughout his 20 year career as a counter-tenor, NICHOLAS CLAPTON has been particularly involved in performing the virtuoso repertoire of the castrati: one Italian critic described his impersonation of the great Farinelli as ‘angelically diabolical’. A professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music, this biography of Moreschi, whom he has already played on stage, is his first book. The author lives in Oxford and teaches in London and Budapest.
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