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Caruso Biography Part I

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"Guardann'a luna"
(Neapolitan Song - De Crescenzo, Vincenzo)
• Recorded 10-04-1913 •
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)

Henry Pleasants (renowned American music critic):

2 centuries ago, Tosi wrote; "Oh, how great a master is the heart! Confess it my beloved singers, and gratefully own that you would not have arrived at the highest rank if you had not been its scholars. Own that in a few lessons from it, you learned the most beautiful expressions. Own, that heart corrects the defects of nature, - softens a harsh voice, betters an indifferent one, and perfects a good one! When the heart sings you cannot dissemble. Nor has truth a greater power of persuading.."
With Caruso's voice, his heart was little burdened with correcting the defects of nature, softening harshness or bettering indifference. It could concentrate on the perfection of the good. Since his heart was big, and the voice nearly perfect to begin with, the lyrical communication was an unexampled combination of excitement and warmth'. The public was his partner in the fulfillment of a mission, and his role was to give the best, and all of the best that was in him...'