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far the most famous singer of his day, Caruso (tenor) was born in
Naples in 1873 and made his debut there in 1894. He rapidly became
widely acclaimed, singing at many of the world's major opera house:
though like many of his generation, he sang most often at the
Metropolitan Opera House,New York. He first appeared at Covent Garden
in 1902. His fame was much increased by his gramophone records,
beginning in 1902, which made him the first star of the recording
industry. His voice, which had a baritonal quality in addition to a
fine lyrical tenor tone, overcame the considerable deficiencies of
the early recording system better than most, and it was his
recordings more than any others that established the gramophone as
something more than a mere toy. His most popular recordings have
never been out of print in one form or another (see note below).
He died in Naples on August 2, 1921.
SOUVERAIN! O JUGE! O PÉRE!' (Le Cid) (Massenet)
HMV 2-03205, recorded 5 November 1916. (2.31MB)
Because of the limitations of acoustic recordings most of his
records suggest a rather penetrating tone - something which many
modern transfers tend to emphasize. This recording - possibly his
finest, technically speaking - shows a very warm and smooth tone and
demonstrates just why he was the superstar of his day. It was
recorded in the USA for Victor, and has been transferred at 76
SCHERZO, OD È FOLIA' (QUINTET) (Un Ballo in Maschera)
with HEMPEL, DUCHÈNE, DE SEGUROLA & ROTHIER
Victor 89076, recorded 3 April, 1914. (2.2MB)
Although almost all Caruso's records were made in America for
Victor, in Europe one normally sees them in the various Gramophone
Company versions. Unusually, this one is a Victor original (click
here to see the label). Though not quite as good technically as
the one above, it still gives a good idea of the voices. The transfer
is at 76 rpm.
Originally I had transferred these at 80rpm, the speed given in
the Victor catalogues of the period: however the authoritative book
by Enrico Caruso Jr. and Andrew Farkas gives 76 rpm so I have adopted
this (thanks to Steve Jabloner for drawing my attention to this).
Opera singers were the pop stars of their era, and one of the
tributes paid to the greatest of them was to invent a recipe in their
name. I have found two recipes and a
cocktail named after Caruso.
Records have issued four CD sets comprising all of Caruso's
recordings on EVC1 to EVC4. Naxos
have done the same thing on box set 8.101201 (12 CDs - also available
separately). Beware of earlier issues by other labels using
'No-Noise' noise reduction: I haven't heard them but there were
adverse comments in reviews.
I have not heard these transfers and list them here simply for
information. I can't guarantee they are still available.