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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 25 February 1873Naples, Campania, Italy
Date of Death 2 August 1921Naples, Campania, Italy  (complications from pneumonia)
Birth NameErrico Caruso
Nickname The Man with the Orchid-Lined Voice

Mini Bio (1)

Enrico Caruso (b. Errico Caruso) was born on February 25, 1873, in Naples, Italy. He was the third of seven children to a poor alcoholic father. He received little primary education and briefly studied music with conductor Vicenzo Lombardini. His early income was from singing serenades.

Caruso made his operatic debut on March 15, 1895 at a back street theatre in Naples. After a two-year stint on the South Italian circuit he auditioned for Giacomo Puccini in the summer of 1897. Puccini was looking for a leading tenor for a performance of 'La Boheme' in Livorno. Puccini was so impressed with the range and tone of the young Caruso's voice, that he reportedly mumbled in awe, "Who sent you to me? God himself?" After an unfriendly reception of his performance in Naples, Caruso vowed to never sing in Naples again, and he never did.

His first major role creations were in operas 'Il Voto', composed by Umberto Giordano, on November 10, 1897, and 'L'Arlesiana' by Francesco Cilea on November 27, 1897, at the Teatro Lirico di Milano. Next season Caruso started with a role creation in 'Fedora', composed by Umberto Giordano, performed on the same stage on November 17, 1898. His first recording contract was signed in 1902, in London, with the Gramophone and Typewriter Company for ten arias at the rate of 10 pounds per take. In May, 1902, Caruso debuted at the Covent Garden Opera in 'Rigoletto' by Giuseppe Verdi. With the help of the banker Pasquale Simonelli, he went to New York. There Caruso made his Metropolitan Opera debut in November 1903. He performed for the Met the next eighteen seasons, making 607 appearances in 37 different operatic productions.

Caruso was the first recording star in history, who sold more than a million records with his 1902 recording of 'Vesti le gubba' from 'Pagliacci' (Clowns) by 'Leoncavallo'. His voice had a combination of the full baritone-like character with the smooth and brilliant tenor qualities. His range was broadened into baritone at the expense of the higher tenor notes, Caruso never sang the high C, and often transposed in order to avoid it. He was a master of interpretation, having a rare gift of portamento and legato, and a superior command of phrasing. His legendary 1904 Victor recording of 'Una furtiva lagrima', by Gaetano Donizetti is used in many film soundtracks.

He contracted pneumonia and developed a complication in the form of pleural inflammation (plerisy), followed by abscesses in his lungs. After a series of unsuccessful surgeries Enrico Caruso died on August 2, 1921, in Naples, Italy. He was laid to rest in Naples, Italy.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (1)

Dorothy Caruso (20 August 1918 - 2 August 1921) (his death) (2 children)

Trivia (10)

He is usually considered the greatest operatic tenor ever, and he was the first opera star to make best-selling recordings, beginning around 1903, which are still in print to this day. His signature role was Canio, the traveling clown in Ruggero Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci". He starred in many of the great Italian operas--some in their US premieres--at the old Metropolitan Opera House, many times under the conductorship of the legendary Arturo Toscanini. He appeared with some of the most famous operatic sopranos who ever lived, and was the first tenor whose name became familiar to people who seldom listened to opera.
Caruso was in San Francisco on April 18, 1906, the day of the city's worst earthquake. He vowed never to return to that city, and never did.
Pictured on a 22¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Performing Arts series, issued 27 February 1987 (104th anniversary of his birth).
Father of Rodolfo Caruso and singer/actor Enrico Caruso Jr., by an earlier relationship with soprano Ada Giachetti, and Gloria Caruso Murray by his marriage to Dorothy Benjamin Caruso.
Was frequently cast opposite singer/actress Geraldine Farrar at the Metropolitan. Between the two of them, they were the biggest box-office combination the company had during the first two decades of the 20th century.
Was the Metropolitan Opera's greatest superstar between his debut with the company in November, 1903 (Duke of Mantua in Giuseppe Verdi's "Rigoletto"), and his last performance with them on Christmas Eve, 1920 (Eleazar in Halevy's "La Juive"). During those years he appeared on every Met opening night except one, in 1906, when personal circumstances forced him to cancel.
Arguably the first real superstar of recordings, Caruso was the man who truly put the recording industry in America on the map, and who helped establish the Victor label (later RCA Victor) as a power within that industry. His many recordings, some with modern orchestral accompaniment dubbed in, have remained in print and continue to sell well to this day, almost 100 years after the first of them were recorded.
As a youth in his native Naples, he fell in love with a local girl whom he wanted to marry. The girls' father deemed him too low class to marry his daughter, stating that Caruso would never amount to anything as an opera singer. Just a few years later he became the most famous singer in the world, making him a wealthy man.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6625 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
Was an excellent caricaturist who took great pride in his sketches.

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