Following the birth of modern opera in Italy in 1600, the demand for soprano voices grew up and the prepuberal castration was carried out to preserve the young male voice into adult life. Among the castrati, Gaspare Pacchierotti was probably one of the most famous. The remains of Pacchierotti were exhumed for the first time in 2013, for a research in the reconstruction of his biological profile, to understand the secrets behind his sublime voice and how the castration influenced the body. All the findings discovered, through anthropological and Computed Tomography analyses, are consistent both with the occupational markers of a singer and with the hormonal effects of castration. The erosion of cervical vertebrae, the insertion of respiratory muscles and muscles of the arms can be an effect of the bodily position and exercise during singing. The hormonal effect of castration were related to osteoporosis and to the disorders of spine.
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Zanatta, Alberto, Fabio Zampieri, Giuliano Scattolin & Maurizio Rippa Bonati. 2016. “Occupational markers and pathology of the castrato singer Gaspare Pacchierotti (1740–1821)”. Nature Magazine Scientific Reports. Posted: June 28, 2016. Available online: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep28463