The Italian term musico (plural musici) has a number of meanings:

  • Originally, the term referred to any trained, as opposed to amateur, musician.
  • In the 18th century, the polite term was used for the voice-type known today as castrato, which was considered a derogatory term at the time.[1][2] The leading castrato in a company was referred to as a primo musico. A diminutive form (musichetto) was also occasionally used.
  • In the 19th century, after the disappearance of castrati from opera, the term referred to a female singer, usually a contralto, who performed male leads in travesti.[3]

See also


  1. ^ New Grove Dictionary of Opera, vol 3, p.529, sv "musico"
  2. ^ Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 782 pages, ISBN 0-19-869164-5
  3. ^ Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992) op. cit.

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