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For his work on the castrato, Clapton (singing, Royal Acad. of Music) begins with a historical survey of the tradition, dating back to the 16th century, and draws heavily and unquestioningly on earlier publications (e.g., Angus Heriot's The Castrati in Opera). He continues with a biography of Alessandro Moreschi (1858-1922), the last living castrato and the only one of whom recordings exist. Clapton relays the life and times of Moreschi, his training at the choir school in Rome, and his career as a soloist in the Sistine Chapel Choir in a well-organized but at times unsupported narrative that will appeal to the general reader. The final section consists of a discussion of Moreschi's singing technique and recordings. Clapton includes a diarylike story of his 2006 encounter with an Italian chorus named after Moreschi, as well as overly technical chapters contributed by various scholars on the acoustics of the castrato voice, the psychology of the castrato voice, and a history of Gregorio Allegri's Miserere mei, probably the most famous of the compositions that featured castrato soloists. This is the only available biography of any castrato, but the book's uneven authority and tone make it an optional purchase.
—Timothy J. McGee