famous dead castrato brought out of retirement
the new scientist reports that the body of farinelli, the most famous and presumably greatest castrato opera singer, was exhumed on my birthday, 12 july, to learn how he achieved such dulcet tones.
nicholas clapton, curator of a london exhibition on castrati at the handel house museum. noted that «farinelli was more famous than madonna, johnny depp and david beckham combined».
his body, originally buried in 1782, is to be studied by researchers in italy to see how childhood castration, performed on prospective singers to stop their voices breaking, affected bone structure. a lack of testosterone should have limited the growth of the hyoid bone of the larynx, giving the castrati a child's voice, while the ribs should grow longer, making space for larger lungs with greater volume and sound control.