Monday, May 26, 2008

a short history of castrati


Unzipped historian Tony Perrottet offers a short history of castrati, including their surprisingly scandalous sex lives.

For Europe’s high society women, the obvious benefit of built-in contraception made castrati ideal targets for discreet affairs. Soon popular songs and pamphlets began suggesting that castration actually enhanced a man’s sexual performance, as the lack of sensation ensured extra endurance; stories spread of the castrati as considerate lovers, whose attention was entirely focused on the woman. As one groupie eagerly put it, the best of the singers enjoyed “a spirit in no wise dulled, and a growth of hair that differs not from other men.” When the most handsome castrato of all, Farinelli, visited London in 1734, a poem written by an anonymous female admirer derided local men as “Bragging Boasters” whose enthusiasm “expires too fast, While F-----lli stands it to the last.”

Don't miss the mp3 of a 1902 recording of the last prominent castrato, Alessandro Moreschi.

[Also a great movie!]

On a side note, The most expensive enslaved group in Arabian societies were the eunuchs who were castrated men drawn from Europe but also Darfur, Abyssinia, Korodofan and other African nations. Ironically because of their lack of sexual function they obtained great privileges while the women's privileges were due to their sexuality. Eunuchs were generally made by Coptic priest in Egypt but also a group of Arabs know as the Chamba. Young boys, victims from raids and wars were subjected to the horrid monstrous unspeakable inhumane process of castration without anaesthesia which had a 60% mortality. To stop the bleeding hot coals were casted into the naked wound, which was followed by the most blood curdling alien scream a human could make. The price for surviving this ungodly brutal act was a life of influence and luxury; silk garments, Arabian thoroughbreds, jewels, were bestowed on them to reflect the wealth of their masters . Strangely eunuchs were both distinguished and greatly revered as elites in Arab society, despite being enslaved. Clearly slave did not mean downtrodden and oppressed. The actual word slave was far from taboo as the most pious people were self-professed “slaves of Allah.”

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