Alessandro Moreschi (1858-1922) was known during his life as the 'Angel of Rome' and is remembered as the only castrato singer of whom recordings survive. Historically he was the last representative of the centuries-old tradition of castrating boy singers in order to preserve the pitch of their voices to adulthood - an act of cruelty that produced come of the greatest singers the world had ever known.
The strange and lonely life of Alessandro Moreschi was lived in the shadows of great events and great institutions, his personality glimpsed only by inference and allusions. Written by an acclaimed musicologist, who as a counter-tenor has performed much of the repertoire written for castrati, this is a perceptive and informed study of the last survivor of a perennially intriguing part of Western cultural history.
Brian Morton is the presenter of BBC Radio Scotland's arts programmes The Usual Suspects and The Brian Morton Show. He has published fiction, music, and literary criticism, was a founding member of the musical ensemble The Golden Horde and has composed jazz and musical theatre pieces. His Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD is the essential reference work on recorded jazz. His survey of defining moments in jazz history is forthcoming from OUP in autumn 2004.