ENRICO CARUSO "Aida - VERDI"12" 78rpm Gramola Rec. 1908


  Es singt / Artist: Enrico Caruso, Tenor In Italian with Orchestra

Seite / Side A + B: Celeste Aida, forma divina (Aida - Verdi) - Mia piccirella (Salvator Rosa - Gomez)

Label Druck / Label Print: Gramola Record

Größe/Size: 12" (30 cm)

Geschwindigkeit / Speed: 78rpm

Bestellnummer/Order Nr.: DB 144

Matrize/Matrix: A 23150 - A 3180

Zustand / Condition: E+

Location / Date of Recording: rec. 29.3.1908

Comments: CZ Pressing

Enrico Caruso Biography

Enrico Caruso (Naples, February 25, 1873 - Naples, August 2, 1921) was an Italian tenor who sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and North and South America.

Historical and musical significance
uch was Enrico Caruso's influence on singing style that virtually all subsequent tenors in the Italian repertoire have been his heirs to a greater or lesser extent. His operatic career spanned the years 1895 to 1920 but was cut short by a serious illness which eventually killed him at the age of 48. He remains famous, while few other early 20th-century singing idols are still remembered by the general public. In the 21st century, many people might think of this as a remarkable achievement in itself because unlike modern-day singers, he did not have access to a sophisticated marketing and communications industry with the capacity to publicise his attainments instantly and globally via the media. (He did, however, become a client of Edward Bernays, the father of public relations, during the latter's tenure as a press agent in the United States.)

Biographers generally attribute Caruso's global success (in addition to the unique quality of his voice) to his sharp business sense, and to his enthusiastic use of cutting-edge technology for its time-commercial sound recording. Many prominent opera singers belonging to an earlier generation than Caruso's had rejected the phonograph (or gramophone) due to various factors such as the low fidelity of early discs, and their voices have been lost to us as a result. But other veteran opera singers of the first magnitude, including Adelina Patti, Francesco Tamagno and Nellie Melba, decided to embrace the new technology once they saw the quick financial returns that Caruso was reaping from his recording sessions.

Caruso made more than 260 extant recordings in America for the Victor Talking Machine Company (later RCA Victor) over a 16-year period, and he would earn millions of dollars in royalties from the retail sales of the resulting 78-rpm discs. These Victor discs, recorded from 1904 to 1920, charted the development of Caruso's voice from that of a good-sized lyric tenor, to that of a spinto tenor, to that of a fully-fledged dramatic tenor with a potent, almost baritonal timbre. (Previously, in Italy in 1902-1903, he had cut a few batches of records for the Gramophone & Typewriter Company, which was the forerunner of HMV/EMI, and the Anglo-Italian Commerce Company.)

There is a visual record of Caruso, too. He appeared in a number of newsreels, a short experimental film made by Thomas Edison, and two commercial motion pictures. For Edison in 1911, he portrayed the role of Edgardo in a filmed scene from Donizetti's opera Lucia di Lammermoor. In 1919, he acted in a dual role in the American silent movie My [Italian] Cousin for Paramount Pictures. This movie included a sequence showing him on stage singing the aria "Vesti la giubba" from Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci. The following year Caruso appeared as a character called Cosimo in another movie, The Splendid Romance. Producer Jesse Lasky paid Caruso $100,000 to appear in these two romantic comedies but they both flopped at the box office.

While Caruso sang at most of the world's foremost opera theatres, including La Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, he is best known for being the leading tenor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for 18 consecutive seasons. His total Met appearances exceeded 800.

Caruso's voice extended up to the high C in its prime. Both his virile vocal technique and unaffected style of singing were without precedent. They combined the best aspects of the old 19th-century tradition of elegant bel canto vocalism with the ardent delivery, naturalistic phrasing and big, exciting tenor sound demanded by such 20th century composers of verismo opera as Puccini, Leoncavallo, Mascagni and Giordano. Fellow singers found him to be an attentive colleague, and he was able to invest his operatic interpretations with an exceptional degree of emotional force and tonal beauty without becoming lachrymose or 'hammy'. Judging by contemporary reviews of his Met performances he was a keen and sincere actor, too, if not always a subtle one.

Life and singing career
Enrico Caruso came from a poor but not destitute background. Born in Naples in the Via San Giovanello agli Ottocalli 7 on February 25, 1873, he was baptised the next day in the adjacent Roman Catholic Church of San Giovanni e Paolo. Called Errico in accordance with the Neapolitan dialect, Caruso was nicknamed "Erri" by his family and friends; but he would later adopt the formal Italian version of his given name, Enrico, because it sounded more cultured. This name change came at the suggestion of a singing teacher, Guglielmo Vergine, with whom he began lessons at the age of 16.

Caruso was the third of seven children born to the same parents, and one of only three to survive infancy. There is an often repeated story of Caruso having had 17 or 18 siblings who died in infancy. Two of his biographers, Francis Robinson and Pierre Key, mentioned the tale in their books but genealogical research conducted by Caruso family friend Guido D'Onofrio has suggested it is false. According to Caruso's son Enrico, Jr., 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 late husband. She quotes the tenor as follows in relation to his mother, Anna Caruso (nee 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 with a steady job. Initially, Marcellino thought that his son should adopt the same trade and at the age of 11, the boy was apprenticed to a mechanical engineer named Palmieri who constructed public water fountains. (Whenever visiting Naples in 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 contemplated a full-time adult career in music, an ambition which his mother, who died in 1888, encouraged. In order to raise much needed cash, he performed as a street singer in Naples and at cafes and soirees. Aged 18, he used the fees that he had earned by singing at an Italian resort to buy his first pair of non-secondhand shoes. His progress as a paid entertainer was interrupted, however, by 45 days of compulsory military service. He completed this in 1894, resuming his lessons with Vergine upon discharge from the army.

At the age of 22, Caruso made his professional stage debut in serious music. The date was March 15, 1895; the venue was the Teatro Nuovo in Naples; and the work in which he appeared was a now- forgotten opera, L'Amico Francesco, by the amateur composer Domenico Morelli. A string of further engagements in provincial opera houses ensued, and he received instruction from the conductor and singing teacher Vincenzo Lombardi that improved technical aspects of his vocalism. Two other prominent Neapolitan singers taught by Lombardi were the baritone Pasquale Amato, who would go on to partner Caruso frequently 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 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 years of the 19th century, Caruso performed at a succession of theatres throughout Italy until, in 1900, he was rewarded with a contract to sing at La Scala, the country's number one opera house. His La Scala debut occurred on December 26 of that year, in the part of Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme, with Arturo Toscanini conducting. Foreign audiences in Monte Carlo, Warsaw and Buenos Aires also heard Caruso sing during this pivotal phase of his career and, in 1899-1900, he appeared before the Russian aristocracy at the Mariinsky theatre in Saint Petersburg and the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow as part of a visiting troupe of top -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 November 17, 1898. At that same theater, on November 6, 1902, he would create the role of Maurizio in Francesco Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur. (He had hoped to create the part of Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca at the Rome Opera at the start of 1900 but the composer, after deliberating hard, chose an older and more established tenor named Emilio De Marchi instead.)

Caruso took part in a "grand concert" at La Scala in February 1901 that Toscanini had 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 Verdi's Otello) and Giuseppe Borgatti (the creator of Giordano's Andrea Chenier). He embarked on his last series of La Scala performances in March 1902, creating the principal tenor part in Germania by Alberto Franchetti. A month later, 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 10 discs became swift best-sellers. Among other things, they helped to spread 29-year-old Caruso's fame throughout the English-speaking world. The management of London's Royal Opera House duly signed him for a season of appearances in eight different operas ranging from Aida by Verdi to Don Giovanni by Mozart. His successful debut at Covent Garden occurred on May 14, 1902, as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's Rigoletto. Covent Garden's highest-paid diva, Nellie Melba, partnered him as Gilda. They would sing together often during the early 1900s.

The following year, Caruso travelled to New York City to take up a contract with the Metropolitan Opera. (The gap between his London and New York engagements was filled by a sequence of operatic performances in Italy, Portugal and South America.) Caruso's Met contract had been negotiated by his agent, the banker/impresario Pasquale Simonelli. Caruso debuted at the Met in a new production of Rigoletto on November 23, 1903. This time, Marcella Sembrich sang opposite him as Gilda. A few months later, he began a lifelong association with the Victor Talking-Machine Company. He made his first American discs on February 1, 1904, having signed a lucrative financial deal with Victor. Thenceforth, his stellar recording career would run in tandem with his equally stellar Met career, the one bolstering the other, until death intervened 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. (The Knickerbocker was erected in 1906 on the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street.) New York came to mean so much to Caruso, he at one stage commissioned the city's best jewellers, Tiffany & Co., to strike a commemorative medal made out of 24-carat gold. He presented the medal, which was adorned with the tenor's profile, to Simonelli as a souvenir of his many performances at the Met.

Caruso's post-1903 career was not confined to New York. He gave recitals and operatic performances in a large number of cities across the United States and Canada and continued to sing widely in Europe, appearing again at Covent Garden in 1904-07 and 1913- 14 and also in France, Belgium, Monaco, Austria, Hungary and Germany prior to the outbreak of World War One. At one point, Melba asked him to join her on a tour of Australia but he declined because of the amount of time-consuming travel such a trip would entail. He did tour Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil in 1917, however, and two years later he performed in Mexico City. In 1920 he was paid the then enormous sum of 10,000 dollars a night to sing in Havana, Cuba, according to biographer Michael Scott in his book The Great Caruso (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1988; page 181).

Fourteen years earlier, Caruso and other prominent Met artists had gone to San Francisco to participate in a series of performances at the Tivoli Opera House. Following his appearance as Don Jose in Carmen, he was awakened at 5:13 a.m. on April 18, 1906, in his Palace Hotel suite by a strong jolt. San Francisco had been hit by a major earthquake, which led to a series of fires that destroyed most of the city. The Met lost all the sets and costumes that it had brought on tour. Clutching an autographed photo of President Theodore Roosevelt as a talisman, Caruso made an effort to flee the city, first by boat and then by train. He vowed never to return to San Francisco; he kept his word.

Caruso became embroiled in a scandal in November 1906, when he was charged with an indecent act allegedly committed in the monkey house of New York's Central Park Zoo. Police accused him of pinching the bottom of a woman. Caruso claimed that a monkey did the bottom-pinching. He was found guilty as charged, however, 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 forgave Caruso and continued to patronise his Met performances. Caruso's fan base at the Met was not restricted, however, to America's wealthiest stratum of citizens. Members of the country's middle classes also flocked to hear him sing in person or buy copies of his recordings, while he enjoyed a passionate following among New York's 500,000 Italian immigrants.

On December 10, 1910, Caruso starred at the Met as Dick Johnson in the world premiere of Puccini's La fanciulla del West. The composer had written the music for the tenor lead's role with Caruso's voice specifically in mind. He appeared opposite two of the Met's other elite singers during Fanciulla's first run of performances, namely, Pasquale Amato and the Czech soprano Emmy Destinn. Toscanini, now the Met's principal conductor, controlled proceedings from the orchestra pit. From 1916 onwards, Caruso began adding heroic parts such as Samson, John of Leyden and Eleazar to his repertoire, while he planned to tackle Otello (the most demanding role written by Verdi for the tenor voice) at the Met during 1921.

In 1917, Caruso was elected an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men involved in music, by the fraternity's Alpha chapter at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. That same year, America entered World War One. Caruso did useful 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 proved to be a shrewd businessman since arriving in America. He ploughed a sizeable proportion of his earnings from record royalties and singing fees into a range of remunerative investments. Biographer Michael Scott says that by the end of World War One, Caruso's annual income tax bill amounted to 154,000 American dollars (see The Great Caruso, page 168).

Caruso wed on August 20, 1918. His 25-year-old bride, Dorothy Park Benjamin, belonged to a well-respected New York family. Their marriage produced a child, Gloria Caruso (born in 1919). Dorothy published two books about her husband, whom she called "Rico". One of these books was published in 1928, the other in 1945. They included many of his touching letters to her. Prior to his marriage, Caruso had been romantically tied to an Italian soprano, Ada Giachetti, who was a few years older than he. Though already married, Giachetti bore Caruso four sons during their liaison, which lasted from 1897 to 1908. Two survived infancy: Rodolfo Caruso (born 1898) and singer/actor Enrico Caruso, Jr. (1904). Ada had left her husband and an existing son to cohabit with the tenor. Giachetti's relationship with Caruso broke down after 11 years and her subsequent attempts to sue him for damages were dismissed by the courts.

A fastidious dresser, Caruso took two baths a day and liked good food and convivial company. (He forged a particularly close bond of friendship with the Neapolitan baritone and fellow Met artist Antonio Scotti.) Caruso played cards for relaxation and also sketched friends and colleagues. The quality of his numerous surviving caricatures suggest that he could have made an alternative living as a professional cartoonist. Dorothy Caruso 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, antiques and small art objects. Caruso was a heavy smoker of strong Egyptian cigarettes, too. This deleterious habit, combined with a lack of healthy exercise and the punishing schedule of performances that Caruso willingly undertook season after season at the Met, may have contributed to the bad health which afflicted the last 12 months of his life.

Illness and death
n September 16, 1920, Caruso attended Victor's prime recording venue, Trinity Church at Camden, New Jersey, for the final time. He recorded several discs that day, including two items of religious music by Rossini. These discs were to be his last. Dorothy Caruso noted that her husband's state of health began a distinct downward spiral in late 1920 while they were on a lengthy North American tour. He displayed the symptoms of what appeared to be a heavy dose of bronchitis but his condition worsened just before Christmas, and he began experiencing persistent pain in his left side. Caruso's doctor, Philip Horowitz, who usually treated him for migraine headaches using 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 movements.

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 audience was dismissed 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 Christmas Eve 1920. (Appearing in the cast that night was the Australian coloratura, Evelyn Scotney, who had sung with Caruso a number of times.)

Caruso's health deteriorated further during the new year due to what was now diagnosed as purulent pleurisy and empyema. He experienced episodes of intense pain because of the infection and he underwent seven surgical procedures to drain fluid from his chest and lungs. He returned to Naples to recuperate from the most serious of his 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 doctors 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, his precarious condition took an alarming turn for the worse and he was given morphine to help him sleep.

Caruso died at the hotel a few minutes after 9:00 a.m. local time, on August 2, 1921. He was aged 48. The Bastianellis attributed the likely cause of death to peritonitis arising from a burst subrenal abscess. The King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, opened the Royal Basilica of the Church of San Francisco 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.

uring his lifetime, Caruso received many orders, decorations, testimonials and other kinds of honors from the monarchs, governments and certain cultural bodies of the various nations in which he sang. One unusual award bestowed on him was that of "Honorary Captain of the New York Police Force". In 1987, Caruso was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. On February 27 of that same year, the United States Postal Service issued a 22- cent postage stamp in his honor.

Caruso's operatic repertoire consisted mainly of Italian and French works. He performed only one opera by Richard Wagner, namely Lohengrin, and that was early in his career. Listed below in chronological order are the first known performances by Caruso of each of the different operas that he undertook on stage.

L'Amico Francesco (Morelli) - Teatro Nuovo, Napoli, 15 March 1895 (creation of the role)
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 - Cairo, 30 October 1895
La Gioconda - Cairo, 9 November 1895
Manon Lescaut - Cairo, 15 November 1895
I Capuleti e 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 September 1896
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 (creation)
Il Profeta Velato - Salerno, 8 April 1897
La bohème - Livorno, 14 August 1897
La Navarrese - Milano, 3 November 1897
Il Voto - Milano, 10 November 1897 (Creation)
L'Arlesiana - Milano, 27 November 1897 (creation)
Pagliacci - Milano, 31 December 1897
La bohème (Leoncavallo) - Genova, 20 January 1898
The Pearl Fishers - Genova, 3 February 1898
Hedda - Milano, 2 April 1898 (Creation)
Mefistofele - Fiume, 4 March 1898
Sapho - Trento, 3? June 1898
Fedora - Milano, 17 November 1898 (creation)
Iris - Buenos Aires, 22 June 1899
La regina di Saba (Goldmark) - Buenos Aires, 4 July 1899
Yupanki - Buenos Aires, 25 July 1899
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 (creation)
L'elisir d'amore - Milano, 17 February 1901
Lohengrin - Buenos Aires, 7 July 1901
Germania - Milano, 11 March 1902 (Creation)
Don Giovanni - London, 19 July 1902
Adriana Lecouvreur - Milano, 6 November 1902 (creation)
Lucrezia Borgia - Lisboa, 10 March 1903
Les Huguenots - New York, 3 February 1905
Martha - New York, 9 February 1906
Carmen - San Francisco, 17 April 1906 (the night before the "great earthquake")
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 (creation)
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.

Note: At the time of his death, Caruso was preparing to perform the title role in Verdi's Otello in an intended Met production. Though he never had an opportunity to undertake the part of Otello on stage, he recorded two extracts from the opera in 1910 and 1914: Otello's aria "Ora e per sempre addio" and the Oath Duet, "Si, pel ciel marmoreo giuro" (with the celebrated baritone Titta Ruffo delivering Iago's music).

Caruso also had a repertory of more than 520 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" and Henry Geehl's "For You Alone".

aruso possessed a "phonogenic" voice and he became one of the first major classical vocalists to make numerous recordings. He and the disc phonograph (also known as the gramophone) did much to promote each other in the first two decades of


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