Castrati Research Paper

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Thinking of castrati it is very easy to conflate them with the eunuch popularized in Orientalist depictions of the harem or seraglio, a stoic and sexless defender of women who is from his orchiectomy incapable of desire, eroticism, or the sexual act. While this figure and the castrato (or musico) 2 are products of castration, this is where their similarities end. Beginning in the mid- sixteenth century, castrati were created not to protect a source of sensual delight, but provide it, ostensibly in the form of a powerful, high singing voice. The Bible banned female voices from church, and this obstacle combined with the sensibility of higher voices being associated with godlier sentiments led to a reliance on falsettists and prepubescent boys before both were “supported and supplanted”…show more content…
6 At the same time a large portion of criticism of the castrato was dedicated to his desirability to women, how his infertility allowed a potential female partner to enjoy sex without the possibility of pregnancy; this paper will discuss those more casual conquests and some castrati who married to women despite a papal ban on their doing so. 7 Castrati were desired because of their difference from other men, and acted on desire in spite of it. However, the phenomenon of castrati is a limited one, as Enlightenment sensibilities spawned an obsession with clear categories (sexual dimorphism among them) and the uncovering of ‘Truth’ in ‘natural’ bodies. Enlightened persons could no longer reconcile the “disparities of gender, voice, and body” the castrato demonstrated. 8 By the late eighteenth century, criticism of the castrato was so harsh and commonplace as to force him off the commercial stage, out of the arms of his admirers, and back into chapels where he would fade into obscurity and myth over the next
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