Here & Now Here & Now

Support the news

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

This article is more than 6 years old.

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.

Support the news

Support the news