Biography Part II

From Dorothy Caruso's book: "Enrico Caruso: His Life And Death." - can be downloaded here.

Caruso tells his wife this story:

"When I was young, doing my military duty in Naples, I wanted to sing. My sergeant helped me to have an audition with Maestro Vergine. He was a great teacher. He heard me sing and said, "You have a voice like the wind in the shutters." I felt very bad, but he had a class of pupils and I asked if I could listen while he taught them. I spent my free time listening to the lessons. I sat in a corner and no one noticed me.

Then my brother took my military duty for me - very kind of him - and I spend more time in the class. My black suit had turned green, so I bought a little bottle of dye and dyed it and pressed it before I went. My stepmother cut my shirt fronts from paper, so I would look nice.

I had to walk very far every day to get there shoes cost money, so I sang at weddings and funerals to make a little. I remember the first pair of shoes I bought myself very pretty, but the soles were cardboard. Halfway to the Maestro's house came the rain. My beautiful shoes were wet. I took them off and put them by the stove to dry. They curled up and I walked home on bare feet.

At the end of the year the pupils had their examination. When all had finished I asked the Maestro if I could try too. "What! You still here?", he said, but he let me sing. "You have no voice", he said, "but you have intelligence, you have learned something."

He got me my first little engagement. He was very kind to me when I was young and poor."

Click above to listen to:
"Chi mi frena in tal momento (sextet)"
(Lucia di Lammermoor - Donizetti, Gaetano)
• Recorded 19-01-1912 •
More information here

Random Quote (view all here)

Richard Tauber:

"I treasure Caruso's records as the greatest and finest lesson any singer could possibly have. None of us living tenors could possibly stand any comparison with that voice. It makes me realise how little I have achieved." [From Richard Tauber, by Diana Napier Tauber, London 1949, page 61-2] On 28 May 1938, the eve of sailing from Naples for his Australian tour, Tauber visited Caruso's Mausoleum to pay his respects to the great tenor.