Biography Part IV

Caruso in PagliacciCaruso was the first gramophone star to sell more a million copies with his 1907 recording of 'Vesti le giubba' from 'Pagliacci' by Ruggero Leoncavallo.

While he was alive the Victor Talking Machine Company paid him around 2 million dollars for his recordings. After his death his estate has received more than 2 billion dollars in royalties.

The famous film from 1951 "The Great Caruso" with Mario Lanza has probably contributed to these royalties, but many arias have been used in films - e.g. the legendary recording from 1904 of 'Una furtiva lagrima' from L'elisir d'amore.

In 1921 - after years of failing health - Caruso travelled back to his hometown of Neaples with his wife Dorothy (whom he had married three years earlier) and their daughter Gloria - View video here. Here he died on Tuesday, the 2nd of August 1921, just 48 years old, from complications accompanying a serious pleurisy.

The Italian King Victor Emmanuel III offered to have Caruso buried at The Church of San Francesco di Paola in Neaples which otherwise was reserved for the royal family. And there he was laid to rest on the 19th of August as the king his was - the King of Tenors.

The city of Neaples stopped in its tracks, all over flags were flown at half-mast and signs with "LUTTO PER CARUSO" (MOURNING FOR CARUSO) had been hung up in the windows of the closed shops.

Click above to listen to:
"Uocchie Celeste"
(Neapolitan Song - De Crescenzo, Vincenzo)
• Recorded 15-04-1917 •
More information here

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...'