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Ave Maria

QUI SI CASTRANO RAGAZZI

By Gal MuxPublished 12 months ago Updated 12 months ago 6 min read
5
Ave Maria
Photo by Ivan on Unsplash

There is nothing more Italian than pizza, pasta, frescos, the Pope… And that attraction that brought travelers from across the continent; Paris, Brugge, London, Vienna, Burgundy, Versailles… to Italy - the opera. 

But, there is one core thing that brought these travelers there. The musici. 

That's where I come in. 

The three decades I have been on this planet have taught me a few things about work. 

One, If you want to survive in the job market in all its peaks and pits, you need to be in an unsaturated field. 

Two, if that field is shrouded in secrecy and mystery, with few people knowing how it's done, where it's done, whether it truly is done, or whether you are in it, even better!

Three, and the most important one of them all, the field should attract citizens with deep pockets. The "who", who determine the when, the what, and the how. Those with filled enough bellies. Those depraved enough to turn a blind eye to the unpalatable aspects of that field. Those who hold the power to take this unpalatable things and turn them into something of reverence making the masses look the other way or have them to never bat an eyelid even. Those who can make commoners want it for themselves. 

I know you are judging me now. But I'm certain you can relate. Don't we all want to thrive? Live in a good house, eat good food prepared in a beautiful kitchen grown in a picturesque garden, drink good wine, wear good clothes, visit cool places, listen to good music, meet important people, be important people? I know I do. 

But most importantly none of us wants to starve. 

Believe me, this is not that story where I try to think up convincing words in a bid to move you on how passionate I am about my job. I care about what doing it can get me. It's that simple. 

I close my eyes and spin my time clock. Four turns and I am in Rome. 1723. 

I'm seated last row at the Sistine Chapel. The acoustics are better there. A mass is in session. A tall fourteen-year boy with his chest in the air, neck raised and lips in a pout is pouring his heart out into melody and I could swear I can see the angels on Michaelagelo's fresco in the ceiling flapping their wings to his vibrato. 

Ave Maria

Gratia plena

Maria, gratia plena

Maria, gratia plena…

The congregants are moved. Some nearly to tears. They curl with every rolling of the 'r'. Frowning and squirming with every sound that comes out of his mouth. Every high, every low. 

Chills ran through my body as I watch their essence moved by the voice and as the falsetto sharpens and sharpens, the crescendo flying and tearing deeper and deeper through them.  

If you closed your eyes, you could feel the heavens open. That voice floods glory. 

When I compose myself, I smile and pat my back. I did that. These humans are being moved by this heavenly music partly because of me. The boy can reach those notes because of my expertise. 

He is my castrato. 

I recall the milk bath in Napoli just four years ago. His stripped comatose body laying in there, oppio pumping hard through every vein. His shriveled mother holding the holy rosary praying, held back tears escaping her eyes. Incense burning in the cow shed, the cows chewing their cud, whisking their tails unbothered. 

I see myself sliding my hand into the milk. I find my way in between his stiff legs. I find the hanging due piccoli avocado and I squeeze. Tight. Then I pull. Then I twist. I twist. I twist. More and more and more… until they wither. I tie the twist with a piece of thin cloth. Tight. Then tighter. I wait. 

I then lift the boy out of the bath, and carry him to the laid-out linen on the makeshift bed made of hay, his mother following behind. I inject more oppio into his body. I cover him with the white linen cloth placed at his feet. 

"Give him food when he wakes up. And grape juice. Apples and oranges. More oppio in his mouth thrice a day. Massage his body with olive oil, the wound with honey," I order her. "They will waste away. In a fortnight he will be well."  

I then leave for my villa on the top of a hill in Rome. Its foot my vine and olive tree-filled farm where my daughters run around in the summer. I have done well for myself. All these years giving the church, aristocrats, and the wealthy the gift of hearing heavenly music and people at their service. 

At the end of two weeks, I shall return to Napoli to check on Giacomo Puccinatto. I hope for good results and so does his mother. Sadly, it doesn't always end well. 

With a good recovery, I shall then inform the eunuch. The one who came to me needing a new musica for the Chapel and another one of my earlier works who now has the cardinal's ear. When the eunuch reports to the cardinal that the operation has been successful, they will adopt the boy and cater for his schooling. They will have him trained to sing until the heavens open. 

And I will receive my scudo. 

I will then bequeath the boy's mother her share. From it, she will be able to purchase a small piece of land, build a small house and even buy a cow, maybe even a few goats. She might plant some vines, an olive tree, a few apple trees, and grow tomatoes and other vegetables in the summer. She will be able to singlehandedly properly take care of the rest of her children now after her husband died in a shipwreck a few years back. 

And from the salary her castrato son will be bringing from performances, she will no longer be destitute. He himself a star might own an apartment in a beautiful street in Rome in a decade or so. 

It's a win-win. 

I will keep attending mass at the Sistine Chapel. There a Cardinal or a eunuch might approach me after the service and as we discuss the beautiful sermon, the angelic voices, and appointments in the Vatican, he will throw in that he or another cardinal might need a page boy, a cleaner for his robes, one to shine his shoes or even another musica for the choir. Some even want one to warm their bed. 

A mother superior may approach me seeking a grounds boy for their convent or a cook's assistant. 

An aristocrat might need a guard at his villa, an escort for their daughters, or a rider for his carriage. 

And I would begin my search, sending out my sparrows. 

Through whispers in the villages, an unwed mother might want to rid herself of the burden of raising an unwanted son and increase her chances of finding a husband. Two parents may be enticed to sacrifice one of their sons to easily raise the others. Maybe a desperate orphan may wish to seek a better life for themselves and turn their fate … 

The story is always different, just like the boys themselves. 

But the procedure always ends with a boy high in oppio, naked in a milk bath. And me doing this job that ends up blessing so many. 

And I am good at it. 

That's why I do it. I also help distribute wealth from the haves to the have-nots. 

And without forgetting, I get to be in beautiful Italy where the grapes are volcanic sweet, the wine glorious, the olive oil sumptuous, the masses epic. 

Imagine a service at the Sistine Chapel at its peak with a musica and his choir blessing angels upon your soul!

NarrativesPlacesFictionCONTENT WARNING
5

About the Creator

Gal Mux

Lover of all things reading & writing, 🥭 &

🍍salsas, 🍓 & vanilla ice cream, MJ & Beyoncé.

Nothing you learn is ever wasted - Berry Gordy

So learn everything you can.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (4)

Sign in to comment
  • Mariann Carroll11 months ago

    Beautiful story, yes there is something special listen to acoustic sing in a cathedral. I can tell you are a deep thinker from reading this story. Congratulations to Vocal using your idea for the latest Challenge, Mythmaker. Your Hail Mary moment 🥰

  • This was so fascinating! I enjoyed reading this!

  • Rob Angeli12 months ago

    Very good, original. Well rendered.

  • Alex H Mittelman 12 months ago

    Lol the milk bath! Well written good work!

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