From the BBC News website:
Castrato superstar disinterred
The body of the world's most famous castrato singer, Farinelli,
has been exhumed to try to find out how his virtuoso voice
Scholars in the northern Italian city of Bologna will measure
his skull and bones and perform DNA tests.
Farinelli was among thousands of boys castrated to preserve their
high-pitched voices as they grew up.
Castrati singers were popular in Europe from the 16th Century
until 1870 when the operation was banned.
Scholars will try to find out more about the vocal mechanism
The castrato's voice was prized for its combination of pitch and
power - an unbroken male voice able to reach the highest notes,
delivered by the powerful lungs of a fully-grown man.
In 17th and 18th Century Italy, up to 4,000 boys a year, often
from poor families, were castrated from the age of eight upwards.
They became opera singers and soloists in church choirs and royal
Very few actually went on to achieve success, but those who did
became the pop stars of their day, and they behaved as such.
Farinelli, born Carlo Broschi in 1705, was the most famous
castrato of all.
Notoriously temperamental, he was buried in Bologna in 1782
dressed as a knight from the days of chivalry.
His remains will be examined at Bologna University by scholars
who will try to find out more about his vocal mechanism, and the
effects of his intensive musical training schedule on the shape
of his body.
The team of scientists includes an acoustics expert, who is
expected to study remains of vocal chords and larynx to discover
what gave castrati such vocal range and power.
DNA tests will be conducted to try to determine what he ate and
what diseases he had.
The project has been organised by the Farinelli Study Centre in
Bologna, a group of scholars hoping to raise awareness of the
Story from BBC NEWS:
Following the link also allows one to download a 1902 recording of the
only known castrato who lived late enough to make a record, Alessandro