A Tear in Each Note
April 21, 1922 - The last of the castrato singers died of pneumonia on this day. Alessandro Moreschi was castrated at age 6. It's unclear whether the operation was due to a medical condition, but it ensured that his voice would maintain its high range well beyond puberty.
At the age of fifteen he was shipped off to Rome where he would join the Pope's very own choir in the the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Moreschi quickly made a name for himself with his angelic voice and he was often asked to perform at private parties for Rome's most powerful families.
A witness to one of his performances described him as having "a tear in each note and a sigh in each breath."
By his mid-twenties Moreschi became the First Soprano in the Sistine Chapel Choir. He would stay there for the next 30 years.
In the early 1900s, with his voice beginning to fail, Moreschi made 17 phonograph recordings. These are the world's only remaining records of a castrato voice.