This highly fictionalized film traces the life of tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921). He loves Musetta, in his home town of Naples, and then Dorothy, the daughter of one of the Metropolitan ...
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This highly fictionalized film traces the life of tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921). He loves Musetta, in his home town of Naples, and then Dorothy, the daughter of one of the Metropolitan Opera's patrons. Caruso is unacceptable to both women's fathers: to one, because he sings; to Dorothy's, because he is a peasant. To New York patricians, Caruso is short, barrel chested, loud, emotional, unrefined. Their appreciation comes slowly. The film depicts Caruso's lament that "the man does not have the voice, the voice has the man": he cannot be places he wants to be, because he must be elsewhere singing, including the day his mother dies. Throughout, Mario Lanza and stars from the Met sing.Written by
Jesse L. Lasky, who served as associate producer on this film, also knew the real Enrico Caruso. In 1918, whilst serving as the head of Famous Players (later Paramount) Studio, Lasky had paid Caruso to star in two silent films, My Cousin (1918) and The Splendid Romance (1919), neither of which was commercially successful. See more »
Opening credits: The events, characters and firms depicted in this photoplay are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual firms is purely coincidental. Says it ALL. See more »
Opening credits: The events, characters and firms depicted in this photoplay are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual firms is purely coincidental. See more »
Since musicals have both gone out of fashion and are incredibly expensive to make without all the talent needed to make one under contract to a studio, I doubt we will ever get a real life story of Enrico Caruso.
But if everything else was in place it was no accident that no Hollywood studio attempted the task until Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had Mario Lanza under contract. No one else could have done it, I doubt whether it will ever be tried again.
And why should it. I think Enrico Caruso himself would have been satisfied as to how his singing was portrayed on screen. For his tenor voice was his life, his reason for being on the earth.
To say that liberties were taken with his life is to be modest. Caruso, like the man who portrayed him, was a man of large appetites although with a lot more self discipline. He had numerous relationships with several women and fathered two out of wedlock sons who are not in this film.
His contribution to the recording industry is treated as almost an afterthought. He's shown in a recording studio once late in his life. Actually he started recording right around the turn of the last century and together with Irish tenor John McCormack for RCA Victor made the recording industry what it became.
When Caruso and McCormack were at their heights you had to practically inherit a ticket to see either of them perform live. But a lot of immigrant Italian and Irish families had a phonograph and a record or three of either of these men. It's why both became the legends that they are.
What the film does have is some beautifully staged operatic arias done by Mario Lanza, a taste of what he might have become had he the discipline of a Caruso to stick to opera. The Great Caruso won an Oscar for sound recording and received nominations for costume and set design.
Mario himself helped popularize the film with an RCA Red Seal album of songs from The Great Caruso. Unfortunately due to contractual obligations we couldn't get an actual cast album with Ann Blyth, Dorothy Kirsten, and Jarmila Novotna also.
Though Blyth sang it in the film, Lanza had a big hit recording of The Loveliest Night of the Year further helping to popularize The Great Caruso.
If you're looking for a life of Enrico Caruso, this ain't it. If you are looking for a great artist singing at the height of his career, than you should not miss The Great Caruso.
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