"Pour moi ce jour est tout mystère"
(Eugene Onegin - Tchaikovsky, Pyotr)
• Recorded 03-11-1916 •
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Here are some of the character traits which Dorothy Caruso mentions in her book "Enrico Caruso: His Life and Death":
- Charisma. When he spoke with people, he gave them his full attention.
He tried to avoid parties, but when he couldn't, he inevitably became the life and soul of the party with his high spirits and intense presence.
- Generous. Almost daily he would receive requests for money from people and he was not known to have turned any of them down. His wife asked him if he was sure that all these people were in need. He answered: "No, but how do I know who is and who isn't?"
- Non-judgemental. Caruso always avoided critique of other singers. If he had sung duet with another person and was asked to comment on the performance of the other, he would say: "I don't know - I didn't hear it." When he performed he was so engrossed with the expression that he did not even hear his own voice.
- Perfectionist and a stickler for order. Stamps, clippings and other items he collected were meticulously put in order. His daily routines were planned to the last detail.
- Honesty. Once he was attending a Red Cross benefit at the Manhattan Opera House, given for soldiers and sailors. As soon as Caruso was recognized in the box the audience began to cheer and to shout to him to sing "Over There." His contract with the Metropolitan did not allow him to sing in public except at concerts specified in his agreement. But the huge audience knowing nothing of this continued to yell and shout for him to sing to them. A delegation of soldiers and sailors came to beg him to sing to the boys, and the committee in charge of the concert also added their persuasions. It was more than human endurance could stand. Enrico yielded at last and going on the stage, sang "Over There" with the immense crowd of men joining enthusiastically in the chorus. As soon as the song was finished he took his wife back to the hotel; he then at once went to Mr. Gatti-Casazza (of the MET) and told him he had broken his contract. He of course was promptly forgiven.
- Exaggerated cleanliness. He took baths and changed his clothes several times a day.
- Hot-tempered. But he would usually quickly regret his bursts of anger.
Random Quote (view all here)
"I treasure Caruso's records as the greatest and finest lesson any singer could possibly have. None of us living tenors could possibly stand any comparison with that voice. It makes me realise how little I have achieved." [From Richard Tauber, by Diana Napier Tauber, London 1949, page 61-2] On 28 May 1938, the eve of sailing from Naples for his Australian tour, Tauber visited Caruso's Mausoleum to pay his respects to the great tenor.