Caruso's Voice

Why did Caruso have succes? His own answer: ""A big chest, a big mouth, 90 percent memory, 10 percent intelligence, lots of hard work, and something in the heart."

"Caruso was not a tenor, not a baritone, not a basso; he was a singer who had the vocal characteristics of all three combined.

He had a voice which did not recognize scholastic, conventional classifications of registers, and ignored all limitations in its range.

He sang the words for themselves for their significance feeling and meaning them. Hence the pathos of his voice, and his superb enunciation, which made the audience understand and feel every word he was singing."

From the book "Caruso's Method of Voice Production" by Dr. P. Mario Marafioti.

Caruso's voice was very unique and incredible versatile (see sidebox).
During a performance of La Boheme in Philadelphia, Segurola, the basso, who was about to sing the "Coat Song" ("Vecchia Zimarra" from La Boheme), turned to Caruso and whispered "I’ve lost my voice". Caruso replied, "You just stand still and move your lips and I’ll sing it for you". And so, with his back turned to the audience, Caruso sang the aria for Segurola. Segurola then acknowledged the cheers from the audience, who didn’t realize that it was Caruso who had done the singing.
Caruso later recorded the aria - you can hear it here.

In my opinion Caruso's great asset was his ability to identify completely with a role and sing as that person - with all emotions connected to that person and situation.

The soprano Geraldine Farrar writes in her biography that she, the first time she stood on stage with Caruso, forgot to sing as she had broken into tears from the beauty of Caruso's voice.

"I have seen him sob for five minutes in his dressing room after the first act [of Pagliacci]; I have seen him fall on the stage, faint from emotion; and I have also seen him come off whistling gaily and joking with the chorus. Whatever his own emotions were, his audience was invariably overwhelmed. I asked him to explain the secret of this power. He said, "I suffer so much in this life, Doro. That is what they feeling when I sing, that is why they cry. People who felt nothing in this life cannot sing."

From "Enrico Caruso - His Life and Death" by Dorothy Caruso.

Click above to listen to:
"Del tempio al limata with Mario Ancona, baritone"
(Les pÍcheurs de perles - Bizet, Georges)
• Recorded 24-03-1907 •
More information here

Random Quote (view all here)

Guglielmo Vergine about Caruso's voice in 1892:

"You can't sing. You haven't any voice at all. It sounds like the wind in the shutters." "It's like gold at the bottom of the Tiber ... not worth digging for."