Male Soprano Soars In World's Smallest Vocal Category09:27

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Robert Crowe is a member of "the world's smallest vocal category": male sopranos. There are relatively few of them performing professionally worldwide, and he's one of them.

Crowe is pursuing a doctoral degree at Boston University and will be researching and performing in Europe this summer.

He sings for Here & Now's Sacha Pfeiffer in the studio, demonstrating his multi-octave range and hitting some gravity-defying notes.

He also recounts the history of the castrati, the boys who were castrated before puberty to keep them sounding young, a practice that was banned in Italy in 1870.

Male sopranos are sometimes referred to as countertenors, but Crowe makes a distinction because he sings higher than a countertenor. To compare the two, watch him singing with professional countertenor Brian Asawa:


  • Robert Crowe, male soprano and PhD student in historical musicology at Boston University, specializing in the history of the castrati.

This segment aired on May 15, 2014.