Born in Monte Compatri, Italy 1858, Alessandro Moreschi was probably castrated before he reached eight years old, either as a "cure" for inguinal hernia or through the centuries-old practice of castrating vocally talented boys for the Catholic Church. Moreschi was a member of the Sistine Chapel Choir where he held the position of first soprano for thirty years. The technology did not exist for recording until late in his career, this session took place in 1904. Moreschi remains the first and only recorded castrato. The barbaric practice was banned in Italy in 1870.
Here, Moreschi hauntingly sings his best known work, Ave Maria composed by Charles Gounod based on a work by J.S. Bach. It is a traditional prayer in Latin and is the basis for the rosary. I have included the Latin text and its English Translation. Áve María, grátia pléna, Dóminus técum. Benedícta tu in muliéribus, et benedíctus frúctus véntris túi, Iésus. Sáncta María, Máter Déi, óra pro nóbis peccatóribus, nunc et in hóra mórtis nóstrae. Ámen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.