If you don’t know what castration is, I will keep it PG – they basically cut off your wee-wee.
Sounds horrible, right? Well, once upon a time it was the cool thing to do, the kind of thing Christian Bale would have done to be more authentic, namely in the Baroque era, commonly accepted to be between 1600 and 1750. Castrated singers basically keep their voices high; as you know, a man’s voice changes during puberty but studies found that the success of castration was inconsistent. Very young boys who were castrated grew up looking more like girls, for example.
How did society latch onto such a thing? All people can rationalize their actions and religion was a geopolitical issue at that time. Both Muslims and Christians felt like they were doing the right thing taking over heathen countries and showing them God. And so it came with song; by convincing singers with ‘angelic’ voices that they would remain angelic and thus closer to heaven. Young singers caught up in the fame – and some were certainly famous – convinced themselves they did it for art. Rich people were happy to pay and were not concerned about much beyond that, since they felt like this was voluntary.