Enrico Caruso (25/02/1873 - 02/08/1921)

Caruso 7. November 1910"You don't have a voice" - "It's like gold at the bottom of the Tiber ... not worth digging for", a famous Neapolitan singing teacher said about Caruso's voice in 1892.

A decade later the voice of Enrico Caruso was celebrated as "The Golden Voice of The Century." In fairness it should be mentioned, though, that Caruso in the meantime had "found" his voice, partly with the help of this same teacher, Maestro Guglielmo Vergine.

Caruso's international fame started when he was given the role of Count Loris Ipanov in the first performance of Giordano's opera Fedora i 1898. During the following seasons he sang in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Milan, Monte Carlo and London. Arturo Toscanini conducted Puccini's La Bohéme when Caruso had his debut in 1898 at the famous Teatro alla Scala in Milan. After Caruso had turned an initial cool reception by the demanding La Scale audience of the performance of Donizetti's opera L'elisir d'amore into a tempest of applause, Toscanini came back stage to go before the curtain with the artists. He embraced Caruso, then turned to the manager of La Scala, Giulio Gatti-Casazza, and said: "Per dio! Se questo Napoletano continua a cantare così, farà parlare di sè il mondo intero." (By Heaven! If this Neapolitan continues to sing like this, he will make the whole world talk about him.) Not an empty promise...

On a sunny spring day - the 11th of April 1902 - Caruso walked into the lobby of the Grand Hotel in Milan to meet Fred Gaisberg of the Gramophone Company in London. In two hours 10 songs were recorded in one of the hotel suites and Caruso walked out with a cheque for 100 £ - and the world of music would never be the same.

These first recordings were released shortly after Caruso made his debut in Covent Garden in London and would go on to sell over 1 million copies.

Click above to listen to:
"Il fior che avevi a me (La fleur que tu m'avis jetée. The Flower Song - Italian)"
(Carmen - Bizet, Georges)
• Recorded 07-11-1909 •
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...'