Known as the "Angel of Rome," Alessandro Moreschi was the Vatican's last castrato singer—possessing the ethereal, haunting vocal quality that for centuries was highly prized in the papal basilicas and opera houses of Europe—and the only castrati whose voice was recorded. The castrati tradition had been established in the 16th century by Pope Clement VIII, and its leading singers were as famous as pop stars are today. But when Moreschi joined the Sistine Chapel in 1883, there were only six castrati left in the choir, and by 1903 they were officially no more. Musicologist and countertenor Nicholas Clapton, who has himself performed the repertoire of the great castrati, here gives us Moreschi's strange and lonely life, and identifies the recordings of him available.
"In an immaculately produced and beautifully illustrated short volume, Clapton sets the castrato in a historical context.... Clapton is excellent on the physical and psychological effects of castration as experienced by Moreschi.... A valuable historical record of a nearly forgotten art."—Classical Music