In the other week’s episode All Songs Considered, guest DJ Jonsi played a recording done in the 20th century by Alessandro Moreschi. Moreschi was a castrato—The Last Castrato, in fact. Castrati were boys who got their balls cut off during prepubescence so that their voices would never deepen. As a result they were able to reach notes even an adult woman would have difficulty reaching. The Wikipedia article on the Castrati is oddly fascinating; Alessandro Moreschi’s performance of “Ave Maria”—done past his prime, in the latter part of his life, mind you—is even more so. Look for it on the playlist on this page. Also, Moreschi’s Wiki entry has a recording of him singing “Hostias et preces”.
While we’re on the topic of men who sound like girls, I wonder if Justin Beiber is a castrato.
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Apparently there’s this place on the Interwebs you can go to find out what song was sitting at the top of the charts when you were born. For me it was Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love To You”. Upon The Nashman’s suggestion I looked up what topped the charts nine months prior to my birth. It was “All for Love” by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting. I’m not sure what to make of that.