Enrico Caruso

25 February 1873 Naples – 2 August 1921 Naples

Il funerale di Enrico Caruso
A record company re-enacted the funeral, complete with interviews to simulate a real life broadcast
In RA format

Enrico Caruso sings Over there (Cohan)
His best record
In RA format

Enrico Caruso sings Il trovatore: Di quella pira
In RA format
I would like to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recording (Over there).
Caruso as a bass

Don't fail to visit the definitive Caruso website, created by Tom Frøkjær; it contains a wealth of information, excellent uploads of all (I think) Caruso recordings, and not least, Caruso's single (silent) film! Great and highly recommended.

From a very poor family, Caruso had a difficult time studying voice: he had to agree to pay his teacher a percentage of his future fees. (For how long had eventually to be determined in court; the teacher would have wanted him to pay that percentage for his whole life, which was prevented by the court.)

Caruso made his debut in 1895 with a touring troupe at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples. In his first years, he was not overly successful, although he already sang in Cairo, Russia or Palermo. His breakthrough was the world premiere of Fedora at the Teatro Lirico in Milano, where he sang Loris (17 November 1898). In 1899, he was at the Colón in Buenos Aires, in 1900 at the Bolshoj, in St. Petersburg – and at La Scala (debut role: Rodolfo), where he had one of his most spectacular successes as Nemorino the following year. His first (of many) appearances at Covent Garden followed in 1902, and from 1903 to his death, he was at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, while also touring the world and singing, as a guest, in Berlin, Vienna, Paris (Opéra), Monte Carlo, Havana, Ciudad de México, San Francisco, Chicago, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Prague, São Paulo, Buenos Aires... but only very rarely in Italy.

Caruso died from a lung disease.

It's pointless to repeat that Caruso was the most famous tenor of his and of all times, because this site will probably never have any visitor who doesn't already know. That he seized the possibilities that the emerging recording process offered him, and that he was made famous by his discs as much as the disc in and of itself was made famous by him, is common knowledge, too. He is quoted to have said "My records will be my biography".

Of course, nowadays any singer half as good as Caruso would be a sensation like a Martian visitor, and his ability of coloring the voice has been unheard of for decades now; but for his age, Caruso sang like a peasant: no remarkable coloratura, very (too) few self-devised embellishments, rough musicality, pushed top notes. But his style – less aristocratic, more real-life, less refined, more thrilling – prevailed, and determined the further course of operatic history. (It was, to be sure, not his style alone: think of Ruffo, think of Burzio, think of Schmedes; also of Shaljapin, who was however, for all unparalleled expressiveness, deeply rooted in 19th century vocality. But Caruso was beyond doubt more influential than the others, except Shaljapin.)


L'amico Francesco (composer: Morelli) - Napoli, 15 March 1895
Faust - Caserta, 28 March 1895
Cavalleria rusticana - Caserta, April 1895
Camoens - Caserta, May 1895
Rigoletto - Napoli, 21 July 1895
La traviata - Napoli, 25 August 1895
Lucia di Lammermoor - Cairo, 30 October 1895
La Gioconda - Cairo, 9 November 1895
Manon Lescaut - Cairo, 15 November 1895
I Capuleti ed i Montecchi - Napoli, 7 December 1895
Malia - Trapani, 21 March 1896
La sonnambula - Trapani, 24 March 1896
Marriedda - Napoli, 23 June 1896
I puritani - Salerno, 10 September1896
La favorita - Salerno, 22 November 1896
A San Francisco - Salerno, 23 November 1896
Carmen - Salerno, 6 December 1896
Un dramma in vendemmia - Napoli, 1 February 1897
Celeste - Napoli, 6 March 1897
Il profeta velato - Salerno, 8 April 1897
La bohème - Livorno, 14 August 1897
La Navarraise - Milano, 3 November 1897
Il voto - Milano, 10 November 1897 (world premiere)
L'arlesiana - Milano, 27 November 1897 (world premiere)
Pagliacci - Milano, 31 December 1897
La bohème (Leoncavallo) - Genova, 20 January 1898
I pescatori di perle - Genova, 3 February 1898
Hedda - Milano, 2 April 1898
Mefistofele - Rijeka, 4 March 1898
Sapho - Trento, 3? June 1898
Fedora - Milano, 17 November 1898 (world premiere)
Iris - Buenos Aires, 22 June 1899
La regina di Saba - Buenos Aires, 4 July 1899
Yupanki (composer: Berutti)- Buenos Aires, 25 July 1899 (world premiere)
Aida - St. Petersburg, 3 January 1900
Un ballo in maschera - St. Petersburg, 11 January 1900
Maria di Rohan - St. Petersburg, 2 March 1900
Manon - Buenos Aires, 28 July 1900
Tosca - Treviso, 23 October 1900
Le maschere - Milano, 17 January 1901 (world premiere)
L'elisir d'amore - Milano, 17 February 1901
Lohengrin - Buenos Aires, 7 July 1901
Germania - Milano, 11 March 1902 (world premiere)
Don Giovanni - London, 19 July 1902
Adriana Lecouvreur - Milano, 6 November 1902 (world premiere)
Lucrezia Borgia - Lisboa, 10 March 1903
Gli ugonotti - 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 - New York, 10 December 1910 (world premiere)
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 - New York, 14 March 1918
La forza del destino - New York, 15 November 1918
La Juive - New York, 22 November 1919
Reference: Caruso/Farkas/Kaufman Enrico Caruso My father and my family, Amadeus, 1990
References for the biographical notes: Kutsch & Riemens; www.enricocaruso.dk

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