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 polite term was used for the voice-type known today as castrato, which was considered a derogatory term at the time.[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


  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.
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