Ombra Mai Fu

from Wikipedia:

Ombra mai fu” is an aria from the opera Serse (Xerxes) by George Frideric Handel.

The title, which translates from the Italian as Shade there never was, is the first aria of the opera. It is sung by the main character, Serse (or “Xerxes”), in praise of a tree’s shade as he sits underneath it. It is commonly known as Handel’s “Largo”, although the original tempo was larghetto. The opera was a commercial failure, lasting only five performances in London after its premiere. In the 19th century, however, the aria was rediscovered and became one of Handel’s best-known pieces. It has often been arranged for other instruments, including solo organ, piano, violin and piano, and groups of strings, often with the full title “Largo from Xerxes.” Handel adapted the aria from the setting by Bononcini who in turn adapted it from the setting by Francesco Cavalli. All three composers had produced settings of the same opera libretto by Niccolò Minato.

Ombra mai fu di vegetabile,
cara ed amabile,
soave più.
Never was there shade of vegetation
dear and amiable
More sweet

Here are three versions:
Yoshikazu Mera – counter-tenor

Jennifer Larmoremezzo soprano

this time sung by a soprano, falsetto, counter-tenor and a child

Castrato, Sopranista, Countertenor

Source: WikipediaI am writing this post still cringing of what I have discovered today on the Internet and on YouTube about three other types of male classical singers. These are the Castrato, Sopranista and Countertenor.

What are these three?

A Castrato is a male soprano, mezzo-soprano, or alto voice produced either by castration of the singer before puberty or one who, because of an endocrinological condition, never reaches sexual maturity. [I was cringing about this.]

Castration before puberty (or in its early stages) prevents a boy’s larynx from being transformed by the normal physiological events of puberty. As a result, the vocal range of prepubescence (shared by both sexes) is largely retained, and the voice develops into adulthood in a unique way. As the castrato‘s body grew, his lack of testosterone meant that his epiphyses (bone-joints) did not harden in the normal manner. Thus the limbs of the castrati often grew unusually long, as did the bones of their ribs. This, combined with intensive training, gave them unrivalled lung-power and breath capacity. Operating through small, child-sized vocal cords, their voices were also extraordinarily flexible, and quite different from the equivalent adult female voice, as well as higher vocal ranges of the uncastrated adult male (see soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, sopranist, countertenor and contralto). Listening to the only surviving recordings of a castrato (see below), one can hear that the lower part of the voice sounds like a “super-high” tenor, with a more falsetto-like upper register above that. [Source: Wikipedia – Castrato]

Below is a recording of the last known castrato, Alessandro Moreschi.

A Sopranista is a male classical singer with a voice-type and register equivalent to that of a female soprano. [Source: Wikipedia – Sopranista]

Below are videos of sopranistas, Philippe Jaroussky and Tomotaka Okamoto

A Countertenor is an adult male who sings in an alto, mezzo or soprano range, often through use of falsetto, or sometimes natural head voice. This term is used almost exclusively in the context of the classical vocal tradition, although numerous popular artists have employed falsetto singing, for example Brian Wilson, Leo Sayer, the Bee Gees, Brian McKnight, Stevie Wonder, Justin Timberlake, Jay Kay, James Blunt, Jermaine Stewart, Art Garfunkel, Chris Martin, MIKA, Roger Meddows-Taylor and King Diamond. [Source: Wikipedia – Countertenor]