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In 1771 Charles Burney tries to discover where in Italy the boy singers are castrated:

'I enquired throughout Italy at what place boys were chiefly qualified for singing by castration, but could get no certain intelligence. I was told at Milan that it was at Venice; at Venice, that it was at Bologna; but at Bologna the fact was denied, and I was referred to Florence; from Florence to Rome, and from Rome I was sent to Naples. The operation most certainly is against law in all these places, as well as against nature; and all the Italians are so much ashamed of it, that in every province they transfer it to some other.'

Quoted The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie, Macmillan 20 vols 1980, article on 'castrato'.

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