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Caruso Biography Part I

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Click above to listen to:
"Core'ngrato (Ungrateful Heart)"
(Neapolitan Song - Cardillo, Salvatore)
• Recorded 19-11-1911 •
More information here

Caruso 19 years old. Since his only shirt was being washed, he draped himself in a bed-spread to receive the photographers.Enrico Caruso (baptized Henricus and called Errico - the Neapolitan version of Enrico - during his youth) was born in Naples, Italy on the 25th of February 1873 as the third child of seven. The family was extremely poor and the father an alcoholic.

Enrico received very little primary education - the family was struggling to pay the monthly school fee of 5 lire and his father - as opposed to his mother - wanted him to work for his own bread.

Caruso took up singing with passion at the age of 11. At the age of 18, he had a pleasing yet small voice with a baritonal timbre. In 1891, while singing on a rotunda at the pier, the young baritone Eduardo Missiano heard Caruso and insisted on taking him to his own voice teacher, Guglielmo Vergine. The Maestro's first judgment was discouraging: The voice was "too small and sounded like the wind whistling through the windows." Missiano insisted on a second hearing and eight days later, Vergine agreed to teach Caruso; in lieu of payment, Caruso was contracted to pay Vergine 25% of his earnings for "five years of actual singing."

The contract clause "five years of actual singing" came back to haunt Caruso. Vergine meant "actual singing" not as a calendar period but only performing days, meaning Caruso would be indebted to Vergine for almost the rest of his life. The case was taken to court and the judgment was found in Caruso's favour; the matter was concluded when Caruso paid Vergine 20,000 francs to terminate the contract.

Random Quote (view all here)

Dr. P. Mario Marafioti in the book "Caruso's Method of Voice Production":

"Caruso was a born singer, and a perfect one, by almost divine and superhuman will. He obeyed the call of his heart rather than technical influences, his sentiment being his only guide in singing. Everything in him was instinctive and intuitive."