Chronological Overview

1873: Enrico (baptized Errico) Caruso is born in Naples on 25 February into a poor family, the third of seven children; receives primary education from his mother.

1883: Works as a mechanic during the day and attends a choir school in the evenings.

1888: Sings his first solo at San Severino Church, Naples. Death of his mother, Anna Baldini Caruso; his father, Marcellino, remarries.

1891: Takes voice lessons with Guglielmo Vergine.

1895: Sings the Tantum ergo at the vesper service in the cathedral of Caserta (2 January); opera début at the Naples Teatro Nuovo in Morelli's L'amico Francesco (15 March); performs leading tenor parts at several theatres in Naples, Caserta, Salerno and Cairo.

1896/97: Widens his repertory and improves the high notes by taking lessons with Vincenzo Lombardi. Creates the leading parts in Giordano's Il voto (10 November, 1897) and Cilea's L'Arlesiana. (27 November). Begins a ten-year relationship with the soprano Ada Giachetti (two sons, Rodolfo, born in 1898, and Enrico Jr., born in 1904, survive and bear their father's name).

1898/99: Performs at top theatres in Milan, Genoa and Leghorn, creates the leading tenor part in Giordano's Fedora at the Milan Teatro Lirico (17 November, 1898). Tours Russia and Argentine with an Italian opera troupe.

1900/01: Scala début with La Bohème conducted by Toscanini; also performs in L'elisir d'amore and Mefistofele and creates the leading tenor part of Mascagni's Le maschere (17 January, 1901), all conducted by Toscanini. Travels to Buenos Aires with a troupe led by Toscanini. Début at the Teatro San Carlo of Naples, where he is received rather coolly, causing him to vow never to sing in Naples again - he remains true to his vow.

1902: Sings in Monte Carlo and London (Covent Garden). Creates the leading tenor part in Franchetti's Germania (La Scala, 11 March) and Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur (Teatro Lirico, 6 November). Records twenty disk sides for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company (G&T) in Milan.

1903: Début at the Metropolitan Opera (in Rigoletto) on the first night of the new season (23 November); with the exception of 1906, he will perform on every first night of the Met season until 1920.

1904: Begins his lifelong recording career with the Victor Corporation, records ten disk sides in one afternoon (1 February). A concert tour through Europe takes him to Monte Carlo, Paris, London, Dresden and Berlin.

1905: Embarks on his first concert tour through the Unites States.

1906: Sings before an immense crowd in Washington (his audience includes President Theodore Roosevelt, to whom he is introduced). Performs in San Francisco on the eve of the great earthquake (18 April).

1907: Despite being indisposed, he sings the part of Radames in Aida in Budapest; his performance is met with little enthusiasm in Hungary, but receives great applause in Vienna two days later. Performs with Nellie Melba for King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra at Buckingham Palace (8 June).

1908: Death of his father, Marcellino. Sings Radames in Aida at Toscanini's Met début (16 November).

1910: Concert tour with the Met to Paris; appears in Aida, Pagliacci and Manon Lescaut; creates the part of Dick Johnson in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West (10 December).

1915: Performs on the first night of the Met season for the first time in Samson et Dalila by Saint-Sa'ns (15 December).

1918: Performs in two silent films. Marries Dorothy Park Benjamin (20 August, one daughter, Gloria, born in December, 1919). Performs together with John McCormack, Al Jolson and George M. Cohan for the war effort and sings Cohan's Over There before a vast crowd at New York's Central Park (19 September).

1919: Celebrates the 25th anniversary of his opera career with a gala at the Met (22 March); sings the part of Radames before 25,000 spectators at the bullfight arena of Mexico City (2 November); adds the last new role to his repertory - Eléazar in La juive.

1920: Opens his last season at the Met as Elézar (16 November); sings the same part at his very last performance (24 December).

1921: Contracts pleurisy (January); undergoes several operations. Together with his wife and daughter, he embarks for Naples (28 May). Dies in Naples (2 August).

Click above to listen to:
"Se quel guerrier io fossi: Celeste Aida"
(Aida - Verdi, Giuseppe)
• Recorded 27-12-1911 •
More information here

Random Quote (view all here)

Caruso about Nellie Melba and Melba about Caruso:

Not a quote but an action. The Australian soprano Nellie Melba was notorius for her ruthlessness and coldness. Performing with her in La Bohème Caruso, as a joke, pressed a hot sausage into her hand that he'd hidden in his pocket as he sang "Che gelida manina, se la lasci riscaldar."("What a cold little hand, let me warm it"). She had considered Caruso coarse and uncultivated and this, of course, only confirmed that ...
Melba, however, was impressed with Caruso's voice and wrote in her autobiography (Melodies and Memories): "As a voice - pure and simple - his was the most wonderful tenor I ever heard."