Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eviro* (for Enviro*)

Eviro is the first-person singular present tense of evirare, which means "to emasculate" in Italian. There are 55 cases of Eviro* today in OhioLINK, making it a very likely typo for oft-used words like environment. The most famous of emasculated Italians, of course, were the castrati, who largely flourished (if that can be the right word for it) during the mid-18th century. Some castrati were truly talented singers; others, desperate or striving, somewhat less so. They were hugely popular among the masses and resultantly, if reluctantly, embraced by the critics and guardians of public morality and sexual rectitude. More legitimate concerns involved the coercion and cruelty inherent in the process of producing such boy wonders. Alessandro Moreschi is the "Last Castrato" and the only one of whom there is an extant recording, made at the Vatican around 1902. Castrati, who were both homosexual and heterosexual, did not carry signs proclaiming "Evirato and Proud" and were generally regarded as environmental disasters to be avoided in polite society. Modern audiences are hard-pressed to appreciate Moreschi's voice as anything more than a novelty, although some believe him to have been greatly gifted.

(Picture of Alessandro Moreschi from the New Statesman.)

Carol Reid

No comments: