Side Effects Of Being A Castrato

25

July
2011

Farinelli by Jacopo Amigoni (photo: Manuel de Corselas/Wikimedia Commons)

Scientists have made some fascinating discoveries since the body of Carlo Broschi, the 18th-century castrato and opera superstar better known as Farinelli, was exhumed in 2006.

“There was at least one downside to Farinelli’s castration. The operation may have preserved the 18th-century singer’s treble voice into adulthood, making him a musical legend, but it also condemned him to a skull deformity that may have affected his mind.

Farinelli was exhumed in 2006 so that his skeleton could be studied. Lead investigator Maria Giovanna Belcastro of the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Italy, was able to identify two unusual features. Like those of other castrati, Farinelli’s limb bones were unusually long. And the front of his skull had grown inwards in a lumpy mass, in places twice as thick as unaffected bone.”

Read more:

  • Lack of testes gave castrato superstar headaches (New Scientist)
  • Castrato superstar disinterred (BBC)
  • Farinelli (Wikipedia)

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