Question: The singer that we see at the party looks to be male - facial features, dress - but has a very high voice. Is this a eunuch or just a person with a very high voice? Is it even possible for men to sing that high if they are not eunuchs?
Question: What are the nuns doing to Marie de Tourvel when she is sick? What possible benefit did they feel it would have?
Chosen answer: It looked to me like they were performing what is known as "cupping". "Cupping" is a branch of Chinese medicine where a cup (often heated, the so-called "fire cupping") is used to create a vacuum on certain areas of the skin, to simulate acupressure. It is said to relieve respiratory problems and muscular pains ad to stimulate the flow of life energy in the patient. How these French nuns came to know of and approve of the technique is another matter..
Answer: He is probably a "castrato," a male soprano. Exceptionally talented choir boys were castrated before puberty to preserve their high voices. This pracitce lasted from the 16th century until the late 19th. The last castrato, Alessandro Moreschi, died in 1913. There are also some men who can naturally sing in this range, called countertenors.