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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

on 5 January 2013
Clapton's first print was a wonderful introduction and thorough survey of the life of the last castrato. The additions in this second print were enough for me to purchase another copy.
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on 27 February 2010
I enjoyed reading this book. It provides a good insight into the environment in which Moreschi lived and sang. It contains relatively little about Moreschi as a person - his private life - due, it seems, to a dearth of source material: as Clapton writes in the foreword, Moreschi's story is "not an easy one to tell, since his life was indeed one lived largely in the shadows... Nothing truly personal from his own hand has survived, not a letter, not a diary...".

After an overview of the castrato tradition and of the historical, musical and religious context in which Moreschi grew up, the main meat of the book (roughly the middle third) discusses his time as a member of the Sistine Chapel choir, charting the political wrangling that beset it and the rise of the Cecilianist movement in church music. The latter would, in the early years of the Twentieth Century, bring about radical changes in the music of the Sistine Chapel, thereby sealing the fate of its remaining castrati including Moreschi.

The book seems to be an expanded version of Clapton's 2004 book "Moreschi (Life & Times)". The additional material is mostly not by Clapton himself, and includes chapters, by three different authors, on 'Acoustics of the Castrato Voice', 'On Allegri's Miserere' and 'The Psychology of the Castrato Voice'. Whilst these chapters contain some interesting material, I found them (especially the last one) a bit disjointed from the main part of the book.

So, overall a good book. I am deducting one star because of an inexcusable number of distracting typographical errors, especially (but not exclusively) in the second part of the book. The chapter on 'The Psychology of the Castrato Voice' (which actually dates from the 1950s) is written in a rather intense academic style and discerning its meaning is not aided by such nonsense as "exprieuiozt" (for "expression", p.296) and a huge number of other typos.
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