What Extasy to the Ear! But, Heavens!
What Clumsiness! What Stupidity! What Offence to the Eye! The means by which future singers were prepared could lead to premature death.
To prevent the child from experiencing the intense pain of castration, many were inadvertently administered lethal doses of opium or some other narcotic, or were killed by overlong compression of the carotid artery in the neck intended to render them unconscious during the castration procedure. During the 18th century itself, the music historian Charles Burney was sent from pillar to post in search of places where the operation was carried out:.
I enquired throughout Italy at what place boys were chiefly qualified for singing by castration, but could get no certain intelligence. The training of the boys was rigorous. The regimen of one singing school in Rome c. After, half an hour would be devoted to musical theory, another to writing counterpoint, an hour copying down the same from dictation, and another hour of literary study. During the remainder of the day, the young castrati had to find time to practice their harpsichord playing, and to compose vocal music, either sacred or secular depending on their inclination.
In the s and s, at the height of the craze for these voices, it has been estimated that upwards of 4, boys were castrated annually in the service of art. There are, though, records of some young boys asking to be operated on to preserve their voices e. Caffarelli , who was from a wealthy family: his grandmother gave him the income from two vineyards to pay for his studies . Caffarelli was also typical of many castrati in being famous for tantrums on and off-stage, and for amorous adventures with noble ladies.
The castrati came in for a great amount of scurrilous and unkind abuse, and as their fame increased, so did the hatred of them. They were often castigated as malign creatures who lured men into homosexuality. There were homosexual castrati, as Casanova 's accounts of 18th-century Italy bear witness. In Rome in he attended a performance at which the prima donna was a castrato, "the favourite pathic " of Cardinal Borghese , who dined every evening with his protector.
From his behaviour on stage "it was obvious that he hoped to inspire the love of those who liked him as a man, and probably would not have done so as a woman". By the late 18th century, changes in operatic taste and social attitudes spelled the end for castrati.
The last great operatic castrato was Giovanni Battista Velluti — , who performed the last operatic castrato role ever written: Armando in Il crociato in Egitto by Meyerbeer Venice, Soon after this they were replaced definitively as the first men of the operatic stage by a new breed of heroic tenor, as first incarnated by the Frenchman Gilbert-Louis Duprez , the earliest so-called "king of the high Cs". After the unification of Italy in , castration for musical purposes was officially made illegal the new Italian state had adopted a French legal code which expressly forbade the practice.
The official end to the castrati came on St. Cecilia's Day, 22 November , when the new pope, Pius X, issued his motu proprio , Tra le Sollecitudini 'Amongst the Cares' , which contained this instruction: "Whenever The last Sistine castrato to survive was Alessandro Moreschi , the only castrato to have made solo recordings.
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While an interesting historical record, these discs of his give us only a glimpse of the castrato voice — although he had been renowned as "The Angel of Rome" at the beginning of his career, some would say he was past his prime when the recordings were made in and and he never attempted to sing opera.
He retired officially in March , and died in The Catholic Church's involvement in the castrato phenomenon has long been controversial, and there have recently been calls for it to issue an official apology for its role. As early as , Pope Benedict XIV tried to ban castrati from churches,  but such was their popularity at the time that he realised that doing so might result in a drastic decline in church attendance. The rumours of another castrato sequestered in the Vatican for the personal delectation of the Pontiff until as recently as have been proven false. The singer in question was a pupil of Moreschi's, Domenico Mancini, such a successful imitator of his teacher's voice that even Lorenzo Perosi , Direttore Perpetuo of the Sistine Choir from to and a strenuous opponent of the practice of castrato singers, thought he was a castrato.
Mancini was in fact a moderately skilful falsettist and professional double bass player. So-called "natural" or "endocrinological castrati" are born with hormonal anomalies, such as Klinefelter's syndrome and Kallmann's syndrome , or have undergone unusual physical or medical events during their early lives that reproduce the vocal effects of castration without being castrated.
Basically, a male can retain his child voice if it never changes during puberty. The retained voice can be the treble voice shared by both sexes in childhood and is the same as boy soprano voice. Scout starts to explain the circumstances that led to the broken arm that her older brother, Jem, sustained many years earlier; she begins by recounting her family history. The first of her ancestors to come to America was a fur-trader and apothecary named Simon Finch, who fled England to escape religious persecution and established a successful farm on the banks of the Alabama River.
Their sister, Alexandra Finch, stayed to run the Landing. A successful lawyer, Atticus makes a solid living in Maycomb, a tired, poor, old town in the grips of the Great Depression. Their cook, an old black woman named Calpurnia, helps to raise the children and keep the house.
But Jem, four years older than Scout, has memories of their mother that sometimes make him unhappy. In the summer of , when Jem is nearly ten and Scout almost six, a peculiar boy named Charles Baker Harris moves in next door. All summer, the three act out various stories that they have read. When they grow bored of this activity, Dill suggests that they attempt to lure Boo Radley, a mysterious neighbor, out of his house. In , he seized the heavily guarded city of Porto Bello, Panama, holding it for ransom until the Spanish coughed up an amazing , pesos.
Three years later, Morgan raided and sacked Panama City, which promptly burned to the ground. Such exploits did not endear him to the Spanish, but in England, Morgan was a widely beloved figure. Following his death on August 25, , Morgan received a grandiose state funeral, complete with a gun salute.
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Today, people around the globe will feel uneasy about getting out of bed, leaving their homes, or going about their normal daily routines, all because of a superstition. These unfortunate folks suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia , a common neurosis familiar to us all: the fear of Friday the 13th.
But just where did this superstitious association come from, and how did it catch on?
The truth is that no one is absolutely sure where the idea that Friday the 13th is unlucky originated. Donald Dossey , the founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, suspects the fear can be traced back to a Norse myth about 12 gods who had a dinner at Valhalla—the fabled hall where legendary Norse heroes feasted for eternity after they died—that was interrupted by a 13th guest, the evil and mischievous god Loki.
Thus the number 13 was branded as unlucky because of the ominous period of mourning following the loss of such powerful gods by this unwanted 13th guest. For whatever reason, among many cultures, the number 12 emerged throughout history as a "complete" number: There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 Gods of Olympus, 12 sons of Odin, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 Jyotirlingas or Hindu shrines where Shiva is worshipped, 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, and 12 tribes of Israel.
In Christianity, Jesus was betrayed by one of his 12 Apostles— Judas —who was the 13th guest to arrive for the Last Supper.
Surpassing the number 12 ostensibly unbalances the ideal nature of things; because it is seen as irregular and disrespectful of a sense of perfection, the number 13 bears the stigma of misfortune and bad luck we know today. So despite actually occurring on Friday, October 13, , the popular notion that the Friday the 13th stigma comes from the date on which the famed order of the Knights Templar were wiped out by King Philip of France is just a coincidence. The repercussions of these phobias reverberated through American culture, particularly in the 20th century.
Most skyscrapers and hotels lack a 13th floor, which specifically comes from the tendency in the early s for buildings in New York City to omit the unlucky number though the Empire State Building has a 13th floor. Some street addresses also skip from 12 to 14, while airports may skip the 13th gate. Allegedly, the popular Friday the 13th films were so-named just to cash in on this menacing date recognition, not because the filmmakers actually believed the date to be unlucky.
So, is Friday the 13th actually unlucky? Despite centuries of superstitious behavior, it largely seems like psychological mumbo jumbo. One study seemed to reveal that, statistically speaking, Friday the 13th is unlucky, but the study's authors told LiveScience that though the data was accurate, "the paper was just a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously. And Friday the 13th isn't a big deal in other cultures, which have their own unlucky days: Greeks and Spanish-speaking countries consider Tuesday the 13th to be the unluckiest day, while Italians steer clear of Friday the 17th.
So today, try to rest a little easy—Friday the 13th may not be so unlucky after all. BY Kevin Kampwirth. Big Questions Origins sound. Subscribe to our Newsletter!