The Man with the Castrato voice

American Michael Maniaci has fully functional balls, but that doesn’t prevent him from sounding like a 300-year-old relic of the Italian courts.

He does not sing falsetto, nor does he have a baritone register, as counter-tenors do. On the other hand, he is whole and male (he obviously shaves; he assures me he is fertile). It is just that some quirk in his development led to all the appurtenances of puberty appearing except one ? his larynx did not grow along with the rest of him. As a consequence, his voice never broke.

Maniaci?s speaking voice is light and high, but, because he is an adult with a stocky frame, it is oddly resonant, like a rather fruity maiden aunt. His singing voice probably comes close to those castrati voices of long ago ? although with only one antique recording available we can only really guess.

We can only imagine how much sixth-grade must’ve sucked for him. Seriously, our last name is Furbush and sixth-grade sucked to holy hell. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. We paid someone protection money and said person eventually ended up in a max security jail. Everyone wins!


But the challenges were far from over. ?It?s the good and the bad of being so unusual,? he acknowledges. ?Having this weird voice made everyone aware of me quite early. I was winning a lot of competitions, but I didn?t fit. I had to continue growing and maturing but I was getting much more attention than most people at that age would have to be concerned with. I?ve been under the microscope for a long time.?

Just finding stuff to sing was bad enough. Baroque opera is a lot bigger than it used to be but it is still rarely part of the repertoire of the big companies, where a young singer might learn his or her craft.

And learn it he did. This guy is amazing, extraordinary, should be put on a pedestal. I suppose if I were a religious man I would say that he has a gift from god, but regardless I’m not sure there is an appropriate designation for his awesomeness. Two octaves above middle C, ya’ll.


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  • Jim Furbush (yes, really) August 1, 2008, 6:18 am

    My sixth grade was pretty good, thank you. I do catch a little grief now though. My goole-alert on my own name allows me to keep up with the several Jim Furbushs throughout the country… – Jim