Album: Cecilia Bartoli, Sacrificium (Decca)

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The Independent Culture

The striking package imagery – Cecilia Bartoli's head photoshopped on to male statuary – cheekily conveys the thinking behind Sacrificium, on which the soprano tackles some of the cornerstone works of the castrati tradition, there being few male performers with (or rather, without) the equipment to deliver this material in the required register.

For the same reason, the majority of these pieces are premiere recordings, being written by specialist composers such as Nicola Porpora, whose "Come nave in mezzo all'onde", from Siface, is typical – all romping horns and furiously sawing strings, frantically struggling to keep up with the virtuosic, dancing ornamentation of the vocal line. It's sumptuously packaged in book format, with a compendium of everything you need to know about castration.

Download this: Come nave in mezzo all'onde, Misero pargoletto