Rodolfo Caruso (1898-1951); Enrico Caruso, Jr. (1904-1987); Two other
children, unnamed, died in infancy;
Gloria Caruso (1919-1999)
Enrico Caruso (Italian pronunciation: [enˈriːko kaˈruːzo]; 25
February 1873 – 2 August 1921) was an Italian operatic tenor. He
sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and the
Americas, appearing in a wide variety of roles from the Italian and
French repertoires that ranged from the lyric to the dramatic. Caruso
also made approximately 260 commercially released recordings from 1902
to 1920. All of these recordings, which span most of his stage career,
remain available today on CDs and as downloads and digital streams.
1 Early life
2 Early career
3 Metropolitan Opera
4 Extortion by Black Hand
5 Later career and personal life
6 Illness and death
7 Historical and musical significance
12 See also
15 Further reading
16 External links
Enrico Caruso in the role of Dick Johnson, 1910/1911
Enrico Caruso came from a poor but not destitute background. Born in
Naples in the Via San Giovannello agli Ottocalli 7 on 25 February
1873, he was baptised the next day in the adjacent Church of San
Giovanni e Paolo. His parents originally came from Piedimonte d'Alife
Province of Benevento
Province of Benevento (now called Piedimonte Matese), in the
Province of Caserta
Province of Caserta in Campania, Southern Italy.
Called Errico in accordance with the Neapolitan language, he would
later adopt the formal Italian version of his given name, Enrico
("Henry" in English). This change came at the suggestion of his
singing teacher Guglielmo Vergine.
Caruso was the third of seven children and one of only three to
survive infancy. There is a story of Caruso's parents having had 21
children, 18 of whom died in infancy. However, on the basis of
genealogical research (amongst others conducted by Caruso family
friend Guido D'Onofrio), biographers Pierre Key, Francis
Enrico Caruso Jr. and Andrew Farkas, have proven
this to be an urban legend. Caruso himself and his brother Giovanni
may have been the source of the exaggerated number. Caruso's widow
Dorothy also included the story in a memoir that she wrote about her
husband. She quotes the tenor, speaking of his mother, Anna Caruso
(née Baldini): "She had twenty-one children. Twenty boys and one girl
– too many. I am number nineteen boy."
Caruso's father, Marcellino, was a mechanic and foundry worker.
Initially, Marcellino thought his son should adopt the same trade, and
at the age of 11, the boy was apprenticed to a mechanical engineer who
constructed public water fountains. (Whenever visiting
future years, Caruso liked to point out a fountain that he had helped
to install.) Caruso later worked alongside his father at the
Meuricoffre factory in Naples. At his mother's insistence, he also
attended school for a time, receiving a basic education under the
tutelage of a local priest. He learned to write in a handsome script
and studied technical draftsmanship. During this period he sang in
his church choir, and his voice showed enough promise for him to
contemplate a possible career in music.
Caruso was encouraged in his early musical ambitions by his mother,
who died in 1888. To raise cash for his family, he found work as a
street singer in
Naples and performed at cafes and soirees. Aged 18,
he used the fees he had earned by singing at an Italian resort to buy
his first pair of new shoes. His progress as a paid entertainer was
interrupted, however, by 45 days of compulsory military service. He
completed this in 1894, resuming his voice lessons upon discharge from
On 15 March 1895 at the age of 22, Caruso made his professional stage
debut at the Teatro Nuovo in
Naples in the now-forgotten opera,
L'Amico Francesco, by the amateur composer Mario Morelli. A string of
further engagements in provincial opera houses followed, and he
received instruction from the conductor and voice teacher Vincenzo
Lombardi that improved his high notes and polished his style. Three
other prominent Neapolitan singers taught by Lombardi were the
Antonio Scotti and Pasquale Amato, both of whom would go on
to partner Caruso at the Met, and the tenor Fernando De Lucia, who
would also appear at the Met and later sing at Caruso's funeral.
Money continued to be in short supply for the young Caruso. One of his
first publicity photographs, taken on a visit to Sicily in 1896,
depicts him wearing a bedspread draped like a toga since his sole
dress shirt was away being laundered. At a notorious early performance
in Naples, he was booed by a section of the audience because he failed
to pay a claque to cheer for him. This incident hurt Caruso's pride.
He never appeared again on stage in his native city, stating later
that he would return "only to eat spaghetti".
During the final few years of the 19th century, Caruso performed at a
succession of theaters throughout
Italy until in 1900 he was rewarded
with a contract to sing at La Scala. His
La Scala debut occurred on 26
December of that year in the part of Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini's La
Arturo Toscanini conducting. Audiences in Monte Carlo,
Buenos Aires also heard Caruso sing during this pivotal
phase of his career and, in 1899–1900, he appeared before the tsar
and the Russian aristocracy at the
Mariinsky Theatre in Saint
Petersburg and the
Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow as part of a touring
company of first-class Italian singers.
The first major operatic role that Caruso was given the responsibility
of creating was Loris in Umberto Giordano's Fedora at the Teatro
Lirico, Milan, on 17 November 1898. At that same theater on 6 November
1902, he created the role of Maurizio in Francesco Cilea's Adriana
Lecouvreur. (Puccini considered casting the young Caruso in the role
of Cavaradossi in
Tosca at its premiere in 1900, but ultimately chose
the older, more established Emilio De Marchi instead.)
The medal that
Enrico Caruso gave to Pasquale Simonelli, his New
York City impresario
Obverse: Caruso facing left. Lower right: Salanto, medal maker's
Reverse: Muse of music with lyre over PER RICORDO (memento). Around
TIFFANY & Co. 24 CARAT GOLD Y (27 mm).
Caruso took part in a grand concert at
La Scala in February 1901 that
Toscanini organised to mark the recent death of Giuseppe Verdi. Among
those appearing with him at the concert were two other leading Italian
tenors of the day,
Francesco Tamagno (the creator of the protagonist's
role in Verdi's Otello) and
Giuseppe Borgatti (the creator of the
protagonist's role in Giordano's Andrea Chénier). He embarked on his
last series of
La Scala performances in March 1902, creating along the
way the principal tenor part in Germania by Alberto Franchetti.
A month later, on 11 April, he was engaged by the Gramophone &
Typewriter Company to make his first group of acoustic recordings in a
Milan hotel room for a fee of 100 pounds sterling. These ten discs
swiftly became best-sellers. Among other things, they helped spread
29-year-old Caruso's fame throughout the English-speaking world. The
management of London's Royal
Opera House, Covent Garden, signed him
for a season of appearances in eight different operas ranging from
Aida to Mozart's Don Giovanni. His successful debut at Covent
Garden occurred on 14 May 1902, as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's
Rigoletto. Covent Garden's highest-paid diva, the Australian soprano
Nellie Melba, partnered him as Gilda. They would sing together often
during the early 1900s. In her memoirs, Melba praised Caruso's voice
but considered him to be a less sophisticated musician and
interpretive artist than Jean de Reszke—the Met's biggest tenor
drawcard prior to Caruso.
In 1903, Caruso made his debut with the Metropolitan
Opera in New York
City. The gap between his London and New York engagements had been
filled by a series of performances in Italy, Portugal and South
America. Caruso's contract had been negotiated by his agent, the
banker and impresario Pasquale Simonelli. Caruso's debut was in a new
Rigoletto on 23 November 1903. This time, Marcella
Sembrich sang opposite him as Gilda. A few months later, he began his
lifelong association with the Victor Talking Machine Company. He made
his first American records on 1 February 1904, having signed a
lucrative financial deal with Victor. Thereafter, his recording career
ran in tandem with his Met career, both bolstering each other, until
his death in 1921.
Caruso purchased the Villa Bellosguardo, a palatial country house near
Florence, in 1904. The villa became his retreat away from the
pressures of the operatic stage and the grind of travel. Caruso's
preferred address in New York City was a suite at Manhattan's
Knickerbocker Hotel. Caruso commissioned the New York jewelers Tiffany
& Co. to strike a 24-carat-gold medal adorned with the tenor's
profile. He presented the medal in gratitude to Simonelli as a
souvenir of his many well-remunerated performances at the Met.
In addition to his regular New York engagements, Caruso gave recitals
and operatic performances in a large number of cities across the
United States and sang in Canada. He also continued to sing widely in
Europe, appearing again at
Covent Garden in 1904–07 and 1913–14,
and undertaking a UK tour in 1909. Audiences in France, Belgium,
Monaco, Austria, Hungary and Germany also heard him before the
outbreak of World War I. In 1909, Melba asked him to participate in
her forthcoming tour of Australia, but he declined because of the
significant amount of travel time that such a trip would entail.
Members of the Met's roster of artists, including Caruso, had visited
San Francisco in April 1906 for a series of performances. Following an
appearance as Don Jose in
Carmen at the city's Grand
Opera House, a
strong jolt awakened Caruso at 5:13 on the morning of the 18th in his
suite at the Palace Hotel. He found himself in the middle of the San
Francisco earthquake, which led to a series of fires that destroyed
most of the city. The Met lost all the sets, costumes and musical
instruments that it had brought on tour but none of the artists was
harmed. Holding an autographed photo of President Theodore Roosevelt,
Caruso ran from the hotel, but was composed enough to walk to the St.
Francis Hotel for breakfast. Charlie Olson, the broiler cook, made the
tenor bacon and eggs. Apparently the quake had no effect on Caruso's
appetite, as he cleaned his plate and tipped Olson $2.50. Caruso
made an ultimately successful effort to flee the city, first by boat
and then by train. He vowed never to return to San Francisco and kept
In November 1906, Caruso was charged with an indecent act allegedly
committed in the monkey house of New York's Central Park Zoo. The
police accused him of pinching the buttocks of a married woman. Caruso
claimed a monkey did the bottom-pinching. He was found guilty and
fined 10 dollars, although suspicions linger that he may have been
entrapped by the victim and the arresting officer. The leaders of New
York's opera-going high society were outraged initially by the
incident, which received widespread newspaper coverage, but they soon
forgot about it and continued to attend Caruso's Met performances.
Caruso's fan base at the Met was not restricted, however, to the
wealthy. Members of America's middle classes also paid to hear him
sing—or buy copies of his recordings—and he enjoyed a substantial
following among New York's 500,000 Italian immigrants.
Caruso created the role of Dick Johnson in the world premiere of
La fanciulla del West
La fanciulla del West on 10 December 1910. The composer
conceived the music for Johnson with Caruso's voice specifically in
mind. With Caruso appeared two more of the Met's star singers, the
Emmy Destinn and baritone Pasquale Amato. Toscanini,
then the Met's principal conductor, presided in the orchestra pit.
Extortion by Black Hand
Caruso's success in the Metropolitan
Opera drew the attention of Black
Hand extortionists. They threatened to injure his throat with lye
or harm him and his family if he did not pay them money. He
initially paid their extortion fee of $2,000 expecting the matter to
be settled, but his willingness to pay made them more brazen. They
subsequently demanded an even larger sum of $15,000."  He was
aided by New York City police detective, Joseph Petrosino, who,
impersonating Caruso, captured the extortionists. Two Italian men,
Antonio Misiano and Antonio Cincotto, would be later specifically
accused of the crime.
Later career and personal life
Caruso's timbre darkened as he aged and, from 1916 onwards, he began
adding heroic parts such as Samson, John of Leyden, and Eléazar to
his repertoire. Caruso toured the South American nations of Argentina,
Uruguay, and Brazil in 1917, and two years later performed in Mexico
City. In 1920, he was paid the then-enormous sum of 10,000 American
dollars a night to sing in Havana, Cuba.
The United States had entered World War I in 1917, sending troops to
Europe. Caruso did extensive charity work during the conflict, raising
money for war-related patriotic causes by giving concerts and
participating enthusiastically in
Liberty Bond drives. The tenor had
shown himself to be a shrewd businessman since arriving in America. He
put a sizable proportion of his earnings from record royalties and
singing fees into a range of investments. Biographer Michael Scott
writes that by the end of the war in 1918, Caruso's annual income tax
bill amounted to $154,000.
Prior to World War I, Caruso had been romantically linked to an
Italian soprano, Ada Giachetti, who was a few years older than he
was. Though already married, Giachetti bore Caruso four sons
during their liaison, which lasted from 1897 to 1908. Two survived
infancy: Rodolfo Caruso (1898-1951) and singer/actor Enrico Caruso,
Jr. (1904-1987). Ada had left her husband, manufacturer Gino Botti,
and an existing son to cohabit with the tenor. Information provided in
Scott's biography of Caruso suggests that she was his vocal coach as
well as his lover. Statements by Enrico Caruso, Jr. in his book
tend to substantiate this. Her relationship with Caruso broke
down after 11 years and they separated. Giachetti's subsequent
attempts to sue him for damages were dismissed by the courts.
Towards the end of the war, Caruso met and courted a 25-year-old
socialite, Dorothy Park Benjamin (1893–1955). She was the daughter
of a wealthy New York patent lawyer. In spite of the disapproval of
Dorothy's father, the couple wed on 20 August 1918. They had a
daughter, Gloria Caruso (1919–1999). Dorothy wrote two biographies
on Caruso, published in 1928 and 1945. The books include many of
Caruso's letters to his wife.
A fastidious dresser, Caruso took at least two baths a day and enjoyed
good food and convivial company. He forged a particularly close bond
with his Met and
Covent Garden colleague Antonio Scotti – an
amiable and stylish baritone from Naples. Caruso was superstitious and
habitually carried several good-luck charms with him when he sang. He
played cards for relaxation and sketched friends, other singers and
musicians. His wife, Dorothy said that by the time she knew him, her
husband's favorite hobby was compiling scrapbooks. He also amassed a
valuable collection of rare postage stamps, coins, watches and antique
snuffboxes. Caruso was a heavy smoker of strong Egyptian cigarettes,
too. This deleterious habit, combined with a lack of exercise and the
punishing schedule of performances that Caruso willingly undertook
season after season at the Met, may have contributed to the persistent
ill-health which afflicted the last year of his life.
Illness and death
Caruso's body lying in state in the Vesuvio Hotel in Naples, 3 August
On 16 September 1920, Caruso concluded three days of recording
sessions at Victor's Trinity Church studio in Camden, New Jersey. He
recorded several discs including the Domine Deus and Crucifixus from
Petite messe solennelle
Petite messe solennelle by Rossini. These recordings were to be
Dorothy Caruso noted that her husband's health began a distinct
downward spiral in late 1920 after he returned from a lengthy North
American concert tour. In his biography, Enrico Caruso, Jr. points to
an on-stage injury suffered by Caruso as the possible trigger of his
fatal illness. A falling pillar in Samson and Delilah on 3 December
had hit him on the back, over the left kidney (and not on the chest as
popularly reported). A few days before a performance of Pagliacci
at the Met (Pierre Key says it was 4 December, the day after the
Samson and Delilah injury) he suffered a chill and developed a cough
and a "dull pain in his side". It appeared to be a severe episode of
bronchitis. Caruso's physician, Philip Horowitz, who usually treated
him for migraine headaches with a kind of primitive TENS unit,
diagnosed "intercostal neuralgia" and pronounced him fit to appear on
stage, although the pain continued to hinder his voice production and
During a performance of
L'elisir d'amore by Donizetti at the Brooklyn
Academy of Music on December 11, 1920, he suffered a throat
haemorrhage and the performance was canceled at the end of Act 1.
Following this incident, a clearly unwell Caruso gave only three more
performances at the Met, the final one being as Eléazar in Halévy's
La Juive, on 24 December 1920. By Christmas Day, the pain in his side
was so excruciating that he was screaming. Dorothy summoned the hotel
physician, who gave Caruso some morphine and codeine and called in
another doctor, Evan M. Evans. Evans brought in three other doctors
and Caruso finally received a correct diagnosis: purulent pleurisy and
Caruso's health deteriorated further during the new year. He
experienced episodes of intense pain because of the infection and
underwent seven surgical procedures to drain fluid from his chest and
lungs. He returned to
Naples to recuperate from the most serious
of the operations, during which part of a rib had been removed.
According to Dorothy Caruso, he seemed to be recovering, but allowed
himself to be examined by an unhygienic local doctor and his condition
worsened dramatically after that. The Bastianelli brothers,
eminent medical practitioners with a clinic in Rome, recommended that
his left kidney be removed. He was on his way to Rome to see them but,
while staying overnight in the Vesuvio Hotel in Naples, he took an
alarming turn for the worse and was given morphine to help him sleep.
Caruso died at the hotel shortly after 9:00 a.m. local time, on 2
August 1921. He was 48. The Bastianellis attributed the likely cause
of death to peritonitis arising from a burst subphrenic
abscess. The King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, opened the
Royal Basilica of the Church of San Francesco di Paola for Caruso's
funeral, which was attended by thousands of people. His embalmed body
was preserved in a glass sarcophagus at Del Pianto Cemetery in Naples
for mourners to view. In 1929,
Dorothy Caruso had his remains
sealed permanently in an ornate stone tomb.
Historical and musical significance
Caruso's 25-year career, stretching from 1895 to 1920, included 863
appearances at the New York Metropolitan
Opera before he died at the
age of 48. Thanks in part to his tremendously popular phonograph
records, Caruso was one of the most famous personalities of his day
and his fame has endured to the present. He was one of the first
examples of a global media celebrity. Beyond records, Caruso's name
became familiar to millions through newspapers, books, magazines, and
the new media technology of the 20th century: cinema, the telephone
Caruso toured widely both with the Metropolitan
Opera touring company
and on his own, giving hundreds of performances throughout Europe, and
North and South America. He was a client of the noted promoter Edward
Bernays, during the latter's tenure as a press agent in the United
Beverly Sills noted in an interview: "I was able to do it with
television and radio and media and all kinds of assists. The
popularity that Caruso enjoyed without any of this technological
assistance is astonishing."
Caruso biographers Pierre Key, Bruno Zirato and Stanley
Jackson attribute Caruso's fame not only to his voice and
musicianship but also to a keen business sense and an enthusiastic
embrace of commercial sound recording, then in its infancy. Many opera
singers of Caruso's time rejected the phonograph (or gramophone) owing
to the low fidelity of early discs. Others, including Adelina Patti,
Francesco Tamagno and Nellie Melba, exploited the new technology once
they became aware of the financial returns that Caruso was reaping
from his initial recording sessions.
Caruso made more than 260 extant recordings in America for the Victor
Talking Machine Company (later RCA Victor) from 1904 to 1920, and he
and his heirs earned millions of dollars in royalties from the retail
sales of these records. He was also heard live from the stage of the
Opera House in 1910, when he participated in the first
public radio broadcast to be transmitted in the United States.
Caruso also appeared in two motion pictures. In 1918, he played a dual
role in the American silent film
My Cousin for Paramount Pictures.
This film included a sequence depicting him on stage performing the
Vesti la giubba
Vesti la giubba from Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci. The following
year Caruso played a character called Cosimo in another film, The
Splendid Romance. Producer
Jesse Lasky paid Caruso $100,000 each to
appear in these two efforts but
My Cousin flopped at the box office
The Splendid Romance was apparently never released. Brief candid
glimpses of Caruso offstage have been preserved in contemporary
While Caruso sang at such venues as
La Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera
House, Covent Garden, in London, the
Mariinsky Theatre in Saint
Petersburg, and the
Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, he appeared most
often at the Metropolitan
Opera in New York City where he was the
leading tenor for 18 consecutive seasons. It was at the Met, in 1910,
that he created the role of Dick Johnson in Giacomo Puccini's La
fanciulla del West.
Caruso's voice extended up to high D-flat in its prime and grew in
power and weight as he grew older. At times, his voice took on a dark,
almost baritonal coloration. He sang a broad spectrum of roles,
ranging from lyric, to spinto, to dramatic parts, in the Italian and
French repertoires. In the German repertoire, Caruso sang only two
roles, Assad (in Karl Goldmark's The Queen of Sheba) and Richard
Wagner's Lohengrin, both of which he performed in Italian in Buenos
Aires in 1899 and 1901, respectively.
During his lifetime, Caruso received many orders, decorations,
testimonials and other kinds of honors from monarchs, governments and
miscellaneous cultural bodies of the various nations in which he sang.
He was also the recipient of Italian knighthoods. In 1917, he was
elected an honorary member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national
fraternity for men involved in music, by the fraternity's Alpha
chapter of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. One
unusual award bestowed on him was that of "Honorary Captain of the New
York Police Force". In 1960, for his contribution to the recording
industry, Caruso received a star located at 6625 Hollywood Boulevard
on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Caruso was posthumously awarded a
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. On 27 February of that same
United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service issued a 22-cent postage stamp
in his honor. He was voted into Gramophone Magazine's Hall of Fame
Caruso's operatic repertoire consisted primarily of Italian works
along with a few roles in French. He also performed two German operas,
Lohengrin and Goldmark's Die Königin von Saba, singing in
Italian, early in his career. Below are the first performances by
Caruso, in chronological order, of each of the operas that he
undertook on the stage. World premieres are indicated with **.
Caruso signing his autograph; he was obliging with fans
L'amico Francesco (Morelli) – Teatro Nuovo, Napoli, 15 March 1895
Faust – Caserta, 28 March 1895
Cavalleria rusticana – Caserta, April 1895
Camoens (Musoni) – Caserta, May 1895
Rigoletto – Napoli, 21 July 1895
La traviata – Napoli, 25 August 1895
Lucia di Lammermoor
Lucia di Lammermoor – Cairo, 30 October 1895
La Gioconda – Cairo, 9 November 1895
Manon Lescaut – Cairo, 15 November 1895
I Capuleti e i Montecchi
I Capuleti e i Montecchi – Napoli, 7 December 1895
Malia (Francesco Paolo Frontini) – Trapani, 21 March 1896
La sonnambula – Trapani, 25 March 1896
Mariedda (Bucceri) – Napoli, 23 June 1896
I puritani – Salerno, 10 September 1896
La Favorita – Salerno, 22 November 1896
A San Francisco (Sebastiani) – Salerno, 23 November 1896
Carmen – Salerno, 6 December 1896
Un Dramma in vendemmia (Fornari) – Napoli, 1 February 1897
Celeste (Marengo) – Napoli, 6 March 1897**
Il Profeta Velato (Napolitano) – Salerno, 8 April 1897
La bohème – Livorno, 14 August 1897
La Navarrese – Milano, 3 November 1897
Il Voto (Giordano) – Milano, 10 November 1897**
L'arlesiana – Milano, 27 November 1897**
Pagliacci – Milano, 31 December 1897
La bohème (Leoncavallo) – Genova, 20 January 1898
The Pearl Fishers – Genova, 3 February 1898
Hedda (Leborne) – Milano, 2 April 1898**
Mefistofele – Fiume, 4 March 1898
Sapho (Massenet) – Trento, 3 June (?) 1898
Fedora – Milano, 17 November 1898**
Iris – Buenos Aires, 22 June 1899
La regina di Saba (Goldmark) – Buenos Aires, 4 July 1899
Yupanki (Berutti)– Buenos Aires, 25 July 1899**
Aida – St. Petersburg, 3 January 1900
Un ballo in maschera
Un ballo in maschera – St. Petersburg, 11 January 1900
Maria di Rohan
Maria di Rohan – St. Petersburg, 2 March 1900
Manon – Buenos Aires, 28 July 1900
Tosca – Treviso, 23 October 1900
Le maschere (Mascagni) – Milano, 17 January 1901**
L'elisir d'amore – Milano, 17 February 1901
Caruso's sketch of himself as Don José in Carmen, 1904
Lohengrin – Buenos Aires, 7 July 1901
Germania – Milano, 11 March 1902**
Don Giovanni – London, 19 July 1902
Adriana Lecouvreur – Milano, 6!November 1902**
Lucrezia Borgia – Lisboa, 10 March 1903
Les Huguenots – New York, 3 February 1905
Martha – New York, 9 February 1906
Madama Butterfly – London, 26 May 1906
L'Africana – New York, 11 January 1907
Andrea Chénier – London, 20 July 1907
Il trovatore – New York, 26 February 1908
Armide – New York, 14 November 1910
La fanciulla del West
La fanciulla del West – New York, 10 December 1910**
Julien – New York, 26 December 1914
Samson et Dalila – New York, 24 November 1916
Lodoletta – Buenos Aires, 29 July 1917
Le prophète – New York, 7 February 1918
L'amore dei tre re
L'amore dei tre re – New York, 14 March 1918
La forza del destino
La forza del destino – New York, 15 November 1918
La Juive – New York, 22 November 1919
Caruso also had a repertory of more than 500 songs. They ranged from
classical compositions to traditional Italian melodies and popular
tunes of the day, including a few English-language titles such as
George M. Cohan's "Over There", Henry Geehl's "For You Alone" and
Arthur Sullivan's The Lost Chord.
Enrico Caruso as Lionel in Martha
Enrico Caruso discography
Enrico Caruso compact disc discography
Caruso possessed a phonogenic voice which was "manly and powerful, yet
sweet and lyrical", to quote the singer/author John Potter (see
bibliography, below). He became one of the first major classical
vocalists to make numerous recordings. Caruso and the disc phonograph,
known in the United Kingdom as the gramophone, did much to promote
each other in the first two decades of the 20th century. Many of
Caruso's recordings have remained continuously available since their
original issue around a century ago, and every one of his surviving
discs (including unissued takes) has been re-mastered and re-released
several times over the years.
Caruso's first recordings were arranged by recording pioneer Fred
Gaisberg and cut on disc in three separate sessions in
April, November and December 1902. They were made with piano
accompaniments for HMV/EMI's forerunner, the Gramophone &
Typewriter Company. In April 1903, he made seven further recordings,
also in Milan, for the Anglo-Italian Commerce Company (AICC). These
were released on discs bearing the
Zonophone label. Three more Milan
recordings for AICC followed in October 1903, released by Pathé
Records on cylinders as well as on discs. On 1 February 1904, Caruso
began recording exclusively for the
Victor Talking Machine Company
Victor Talking Machine Company in
the United States. While most of Caruso's American recordings would be
made in Victor's studios in New York and Camden, New Jersey, Caruso
would later record in Camden's Trinity Church, which Victor acquired
as a recording studio in 1917 for its acoustical properties and which
could accommodate a large band of musicians. Caruso's first recordings
for Victor In 1904 were made in Room 826 at Carnegie Hall, in New
York. Caruso's final recording session took place at the Trinity
Church studio in Camden on September 16, 1920 with the tenor singing
the Domine Deus and Crucifixus from Rossini's Petite messe solennelle.
Caruso's earliest American records of operatic arias and songs, like
their thirty or so Milan-made predecessors, were accompanied by piano.
From February 1906, however, orchestral accompaniments became the
norm, utilizing an ensemble of between eleven and twenty musicians.
The regular conductors of these recording sessions with orchestra were
Walter B. Rogers and, from 1916, Josef Pasternack. Beginning in 1932,
RCA Victor in the US and
EMI (HMV) in the UK, reissued several of the
old discs with the existing accompaniment over-dubbed by a larger
electrically recorded orchestra. (Earlier experiments using this
re-dubbing technique, carried out by Victor in 1927, had been
considered unsatisfactory.) In 1950,
RCA Victor reissued a number of
Caruso recordings on 78-rpm discs pressed on red vinylite instead of
the usual shellac. As long-playing discs (LPs) became popular, many of
his recordings were electronically enhanced with reverb and similar
effects to make them sound "fuller" for release on the extended
format. Several Caruso recordings were also released by
RCA Victor on
their 45-rpm format during the 1950s.
In the 1970s,
Thomas G. Stockham
Thomas G. Stockham of the
University of Utah
University of Utah developed
an early digital reprocessing technique called "Soundstream" to
remaster Caruso's recordings for RCA. These early digitised efforts
were issued in part on LP, beginning in 1976 and were issued complete
RCA Victor on compact disc (in 1990, again in 2004 and a third
time, in 2017). Other complete sets of Caruso's recordings in newer
digital restorations were issued on CD on the Pearl label and in
2000–2004 by Naxos. The 12-disc Naxos set was remastered by the
noted American audio-restoration engineer Ward Marston. In 1993, Pearl
also released a two-CD collection devoted to RCA and EMI's
electrically over-dubbed versions of some of Caruso's original
acoustic discs, originally issued in the 1930s. RCA has similarly
issued three CD sets of Caruso recordings with over-dubbed modern,
orchestral accompaniments, digitally recorded. Since the expiration of
their original copyrights, Caruso's records are now in the public
domain and have been reissued by several different record labels with
varying degrees of sound quality. They are also available over the
internet as digital downloads. Caruso's best-selling downloads at
iTunes have been the familiar Italian songs "Santa Lucia" and "O Sole
Caruso died before the introduction of higher fidelity, electrical
recording technology in 1925. All of his recordings were made using
the acoustic process, which required the recording artist to sing into
a metal horn or funnel which relayed sound directly to a master disc
via a stylus. This process captured only a limited range of the
overtones and nuances present in the singing voice. Caruso's 12-inch
acoustic recordings were limited to a maximum duration of around four
and one half minutes. Consequently, most of the selections that he
recorded were limited to those that could be edited to fit this time
constraint. Longer selections were occasionally issued on two or more
Caruso alongside his piano
O soave fanciulla
"O soave fanciulla" from Giacomo Puccini's La bohème, sung by Enrico
Nellie Melba in 1907.
A 1908 recording of "Recondita armonia" from Giacomo Puccini's Tosca
O Mimì, tu più non torni
A 1907 recording with
Enrico Caruso as Rodolfo and
Antonio Scotti as
Marcello of "O Mimì, tu più non torni" from Act IV of Giacomo
Puccini's La bohème.
Vesti La Giubba
17 March 1907, recording of 'Vesti La Giubba' from Pagliacci
La donna è mobile
La donna è mobile from Verdi's Rigoletto, 1908
Faust: "O merveille! ... A moi les plaisirs"
The Act I finale of Charles Gounod's Faust (1859), sung by Enrico
Marcel Journet in 1910.
"Una furtiva lagrima"
"Una furtiva lagrima" from Gaetano Donizetti's
L'elisir d'amore Sung
in 1911 for the Victor Talking Machine Company.
Manon! avez-vous peur ... On l'appelle Manon
1912 recording of
Enrico Caruso and
Geraldine Farrar performing a
scene from Act II of Jules Massenet's Manon.
Caruso sings Ave Maria by Percival Benedict Kahn,
Mischa Elman on
"Sì, pel ciel marmoreo giuro!"
The 1914 recording by Titta Ruffo and
Enrico Caruso of Giuseppe
"È scherzo od è follia"
Enrico Caruso, Frieda Hempel, Maria Duchêne,
Andrés De Segurola
Andrés De Segurola and
Léon Rothier performing "È scherzo od è Follia" from Giuseppe
Un ballo in maschera
Un ballo in maschera in 1914
O souverain, O juge, O père!
1916 recording of Rodrigue's Act III aria in Jules Massenet's Le Cid
"Ombra mai fu"
"Ombra mai fu" (and the introductory recitative) from George Frideric
Handel's Serse, recorded in 1920.
No Pagliaccio non son
Recording of 'No Pagliaccio non son' from
Problems listening to the files? See media help.
Birth of public radio broadcasting
The Young Caruso
The Great Caruso
^ Key, Pierre, Enrico Caruso: A Biography, Vienna House, 1972.
^ Robinson, Francis, Caruso: His Life in Pictures, Brahmhall, 1957.
^ Caruso, Enrico Jr. & Farkas, Andrew, Enrico Caruso: My Father
and My Family, Amadeus Press, 1990, p.20.
^ Caruso, Enrico Jr. & Farkas, Andrew, Enrico Caruso, My Father
and My Family, Amadeus Press, 1990.
^ Dorothy Caruso, Enrico Caruso, His Life and Death, p. 257.
^ Key and Zirato, p. 16.
^ Simonelli, Pasquale (2012),
Enrico Caruso Unedited Notes,
Charleston, SC.: S.E.A.O. Inc. http://amzn.com/0615714900
Enrico Caruso in Scotland".
Opera Scotland. 1909-09-03. Retrieved
^ Bronson, William, "The Earth Shook, The Sky Burned," p. 50
^ William Bronson, The Earth Shook, The Sky Burned
^ An account of the earthquake by Caruso's lifelong friend, the
baritone Antonio Scotti, including Scotti's observations of Caruso's
behavior, is found in Pierre Key's biography of Caruso, Enrico Caruso:
A Biography free online at Internet Archive, pp. 228–29.
^ David Suisman, "Welcome to the Monkey House:
Enrico Caruso and the
First Celebrity Trial of the Twentieth Century". In The Believer, June
2004, webpage accessed 2009-05-14.
^ Holahan, David (April 23, 2017). "Before the Mafia, there was the
terrifying 'Black Hand'". Retrieved November 5, 2017. Before the Mafia
captured the American crime spotlight in the 1920s, there was the
Society of the Black Hand, which made ends meet by terrorizing and
extorting fellow Italians, mainly, among them tenor
Enrico Caruso and
Italian-American business owners
^ Nash, Jay (1998). "Terrorism in the 20th Century: A Narrative
Encyclopedia From the Anarchists". M Evans and Company. Retrieved
November 5, 2017. The note stated that lye or other corrosive agents
would be slipped into Caruso's wine or tea.
^ Dash, Mike (2009). The First Family: Terror, Extortion and the Birth
of the American Mafia. Simon & Schuster. p. 26.
^ Raab, Selwyn. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of
America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires. London: Robson Books, 2006.
ISBN 1-86105-952-3. p. 19
^ "Inside 'The Black Hand' Crime Wave A Century Ago". April 29, 2017.
Retrieved November 5, 2017.
^ "Prominent People". The Irvington Gazette. May 20, 1910. Retrieved
November 5, 2017.
Enrico Caruso accused Antonio Misiano with trying to
obtain $15,000 from him by Black hand methods.
^ "CARUSO BLACKMAILER GONE.; Italian Who Sought $5,000 from Singer
Jumps His Bail". New York Times. February 5, 1912. Retrieved March 8,
^ Scott 1991, p. 181.
^ Scott 1991, p. 168.
^ Caruso Love Letters Reveal Passion Behind a Life of Epic Operatic
Drama 2005 article describing the discovery of voluminous
correspondence between Caruso and Giachetti.
^ Orlando Barone, Caruso Mysteries, article written for the Opera-L
discussion list 1996-02-21, page found 2010-10-29.
^ Caruso Jr., p. 338.
^ Wah Keung Chan, The Voice of Caruso from La Scena Musicale Vol. 7,
No. 7 online, page found 2010-11-06.
^ Caruso Jr. covers his father's relationship with Giachetti in great
detail. Jackson (1973) and Scott (1988) also contain extensive
information about the liaison.
^ Gloria Caruso Murray, 79, Artist and Tenor's Daughter, William H.
Honan, The New York Times, December 18, 1999
^ Dorothy Caruso, Enrico Caruso: His Life and Death. Simon and
Schuster, New York, 1945. Mrs, Caruso enumerated these facts partly to
satisfy public curiosity and partly to dispel myths and rumors about
^ Pierre Key, Enrico Caruso, a Biography written with Caruso's
personal assistant Bruno Zirato. Little, Brown and Co, Boston, 1922.
^ Stanley Jackson, Caruso. Stein & Day, 1972.
^ Caruso, Jr.'s biography devotes an entire section to medical
opinions concerning the tenor's ailments and possible causes of his
^ Dorothy Caruso, pp. 234–44.
^ Pierre Key, p. 386.
^ Caruso described his illness and surgical procedures in a letter to
his brother Giovanni, reprinted in Enrico Caruso, His Life in Pictures
by Francis Robinson (Bramhall, 1977), p. 137.
^ Dorothy Caruso, pp. 268–70.
^ Biographer Pierre Key attributed Caruso's decline to over-exertion
as he convalesced (see p. 389), as did Francis Robinson (p. 139).
Dorothy agrees with this in part, saying (p. 262) that a group of
hangers-on encouraged him to go on excursions, give dinners and
otherwise exert himself.
^ Dorothy Caruso, p. 275.
Enrico Caruso Dies in Native Naples: Death Came Suddenly, New York
Times, August 3, 1921, webpage found 2009-05-14.
^ Pringle, Heather, The Mummy Congress, London, 2002, pp. 294–296;
^ John Potter, Almost as Good as Presley: Caruso the Pop Idol. In
Public Domain Review, online magazine, 2012-02-13, page found
^ Enrico Caruso: The Voice of the Century (A & E Biography, 1998).
^ Key, Pierre and Bruno Zirato, Enrico Caruso, a Biography. Little
Brown and Co., 1922.
^ Stanley Jackson, Caruso. Stein and Day, 1973.
^ A.J. Millard, America On Record (Cambridge University Press, 2005),
Enrico Caruso (tenor)". Gramophone. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
^ Key, Pierre and Bruno Zirato, Enrico Caruso, a Biography. Little
Brown and Co., 1922. p. 145
Scott catalog # 2250.
Enrico Caruso (tenor)". Gramophone. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
Caruso, Dorothy, and Goddard, Torrance Wings of Song: The Story of
Caruso, (Milton, Balch & Company, New York, 1928).
Caruso, Dorothy, Enrico Caruso: His Life and Death, with a discography
by Jack Caidin (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1945).
Caruso, Enrico, Jr., and Farkas, Andrew, Enrico Caruso: My Father and
My Family, with a discography by William Moran and a chronology by Tom
Kaufman (Amadeus Press, Portland, 1990).
Jackson, Stanley, Caruso (Stein and Day, New York, 1972).
Key, P.V.R. and Zirato, B, Enrico Caruso, a Biography (Little, Brown
and Co, Boston, 1922).
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre,"Enrico Caruso. L'homme et l'artiste" (Étude
psycho-physiologique, esthétique et historique) (Terra Beata.
Société littéraire et historique, & Association internationale
de chant lyrique TITTA RUFFO, 2011, 1331 pp., ill.).
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Le Ténor Enrico Caruso. Volume I (La voix et
l'art),Étude physique, phonétique, linguistique et esthétique".
Édilivre, Saint-Denis, 2015, 131 pp., ill.)
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Le Ténor Enrico Caruso. Volume II (Les
enregistrements), Étude physique, phonétique, linguistique et
esthétique". Édilivre, Saint-Denis, 2015, 381 pp., ill.)
The Great Caruso (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1988).
Scott, Michael (1991), The Great Caruso, Random House,
Dash, Mike (2009). The First Family: Terror, Extortion and the Birth
of the American Mafia. London: Simon & Schuster.
Douglas, Nigel, Legendary Voices (Andre Deutsch, London, 1992).
Gargano, Pietro and Cesarini, Gianni, Caruso, Vita e arte di un grande
cantante (Longanesi, 1990).
Gargano, Pietro, Una vita una leggenda (Editoriale Giorgio Mondadori,
Griffith, Hugh, CD liner notes for The Complete Recordings of Enrico
Caruso, volumes 1 & 2, produced by Ward Marston (Naxos Historical,
8.110703, 8.110704, (c) 2000 HNH International Ltd).
Il Progresso italo americano, Il banchiere New Page 1[permanent dead
link] at bluehawk.monmouth.edu; che portò Caruso, negli US, sezione B
– supplemento illustrato della domenica, New York, 27 luglio 1986.
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Caruso in Concert" (in "Étude" n°46, "Hommage
à Marguerite-Marie Dubois", January–February–March–April 2010,
pp. 12–37, Journal of Association internationale de chant
lyrique "Titta Ruffo", Marseilles, France, edited by Professor
Jean-Pierre Mouchon, M.A., PhD, Mus.D., D.Li).
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Chronologie de la carrière artistique du
ténor Enrico Caruso" (Académie Régionale de Chant Lyrique,
Marseilles, France, 1992, 423 p., ill.).
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Enrico Caruso. 1873–1921. Sa vie et sa voix.
Étude psycho-physiologique, physique, phonétique et esthétique",
foreword by Dr.Édouard-Jean Garde (Académie régionale de chant
lyrique, Marseille, France, 1966, 106 p. ill.).
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Enrico Caruso. Deuxième partie. (La voix et
l'art, les enregistrements). Étude physique, phonétique,
linguistique et esthétique." Volume III (Association internationale
de chant lyrique TITTA RUFFO, 2012, 433 pp. ill.
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Enrico Caruso. His Life and Voice" (Éditions
Ophrys, Gap, France, 1974, 77 p. ill.).
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Enrico Caruso. L'homme et l'artiste", two
volumes (Terra Beata, Société littéraire et historique), 45, bd.
Notre-Dame, 13006—Marseille, France, 2011, 1359 pp., ill.
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Enrico Caruso. L'homme et l'artiste, 4 vol.:
Première partie. L'homme (Étude psycho-physiologique et historique),
pp. 1–653 bis, ill.; deuxième partie. L'artiste (étude physique,
phonétique, linguistique et esthétique), pp. 654–975 bis,
bibliographie critique, index des représentations données par Enrico
Caruso entre 1895 et 1920, index de ses concerts et récitals, pp.
976–1605 (Paris-Sorbonne 1978, published by Atelier national de
reproduction des thèses, Université de Lille III, 9, rue Auguste
Angellier, 59046 Lille, France in three volumes, and by
Didier-Érudition, Paris, in microfiches).
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Particularités physiques et phonétiques de la
voix enregistrée de Caruso", foreword by Prof.André Appaix (in Le
Sud Médical et Chirurgical, 99e année, n°2509, Marseille, France,
31 octobre 1964, pp. 11812–11829).
Mouchon, Jean-Pierre, "Enrico Caruso, interprète de Turiddu et de
Canio" (in Avant-Scène Opéra, "Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci.
Mascagni/Leoncavallo", 147 pp., n° 295, 2016, l'article se trouve pp.
Pleasants, Henry, The Great Singers (Macmillan Publishing, London,
Potter, John, Tenor: History of a Voice (Yale University Press, New
Haven & London, 2009).
Steane, John, The Grand Tradition: 70 Years of Singing on Disc
(Duckworth, London, 1974).
Vaccaro, Riccardo, Caruso, foreword by Dr. Ruffo Titta (Edizioni
Scientifiche Italiane, Naples, Italy, 1995).
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Enrico Caruso.
Wikisource has the text of a 1922
Encyclopædia Britannica article
about Enrico Caruso.
Enrico Caruso at Project Gutenberg
Enrico Caruso at
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Works by or about
Enrico Caruso at Internet Archive
Complete Thesis of Jean-Pierre Mouchon "Enrico Caruso. The Man and the
Artist" (Terra Beata, 45, bd. Notre-Dame, 13006. Marseille, France,
2011, 1359 pp. ill. ISBN 2-909366-16-2)
Caruso, Dorothy :
Enrico Caruso His Life And Death (1945)
Caruso, Enrico and Luisa Tetrazzini: Caruso and Tetrazzini on the Art
of Singing (1909), complete text at Project Gutenberg
"Caruso and the San Francisco Earthquake" San Francisco Museum
Enrico Caruso on Victor Records from the Encyclopedic
Discography of Victor Recordings (EDVR)
Enrico Caruso on IMDb
Enrico Caruso Museum of America
Enrico Caruso Page
Enrico Caruso – Sound Clips and Narration at History of the Tenor
Key, Pierre V.R.: Enrico Caruso; a biography (1922) complete text
Recordings of Caruso Part 1, Part 2 Audio files at Internet Archive
Video of Caruso at 1908 opening of Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires
Enrico Caruso at Find a Grave
Simonelli, Pasquale (2012),
Enrico Caruso Unedited Notes, Charleston,
SC.: S.E.A.O. Inc. ISBN 978-0615714905
ISNI: 0000 0000 8082 0236
BNF: cb124060028 (data)