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Alessandro Moreschi (1858-1922) was director of papal music and the Sistine Chapel choir at the Vatican and probably the last of the castrati. Moreschi is the only castrato whose voice has been recorded.

The castrati were a dying breed, and Thomas Edison was determined to capture the voice of the last remaining specimen. From 1902 to 1904, Edison made 12 cylinder recordings of Moreschi’s voice. Edison also recorded Moreschi’s boss, Pope Leo XIII, praising the castrato to the skies, the first recording of a pope. These recordings are available on CD.

The Vatican’s official position on castrati was that they were not actually castrati at all, but intact singers singing falsetto. After Moreschi’s death, they refused to do an autopsy which would have proven that the singer had all his original parts.

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