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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 term (generally regarded as derogatory) was used for the voice-type known today as castrato.[1][2]
  • In the 19th century, after the disappearance of castrati from opera, the term referred to a female singer, usually a mezzo-soprano, but sometimes a contralto, in a breeches role,[3] often referred to as a primo musico. A diminutive form (musichetto) was also occasionally used.

See also[edit]


  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.