A Real Sopranist


An androgynously beautiful man, singing.

Back in February, I wrote a piece for LGBT+ History Month about the castrati singers of the 18th century, and my character Carlo in the forthcoming Cage of Nightingales. In that piece, I said, “It’s impossible for us now to know what the leading castrati really sounded like.” That may still be true. (The intense levels of training they went through from boyhood would probably be illegal now, never mind the actual castration). But just this week, I made a discovery I can’t believe I have not made before.

There are real-life male sopranos.

True sopranos, as opposed to counter-tenors, who sing in their falsetto range, thereby only using part of the vocal cord. (Imagine plucking a guitar string while holding the string a long way down the bridge, to make the note extra-high). True sopranos sing with all their vocal cord vibrating (unless they go into falsetto, which is extra-extra-high!) Which means you’re going to get a much more resonant sound.

Entirely by accident, I saw a news report about the sopranist (male soprano) Samuel Mariño, who is currently playing the part of Iris (goddess of rainbows) in Handel’s Semele at Glyndebourne Festival. Samuel has an amazingly beautiful voice, and what’s more, he comes across as the living embodiment of my Carlo!

Samuel’s voice never broke fully, so his natural, speaking voice is in the soprano range. He also identifies as LGBTQIA, and is known for his nonbinary costumes on stage. 

The screen caps above come from this video on YouTube. Have a listen and see what you think. I love it!!

If you want to know more, there is also an interview with Samuel here. I think he’s found a new fan in me. I just wish he would love Cage of Nightingales! 


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