Biography of Famous Tenor Opera Singer Enrico Caruso Part 1

About the famous Italian tenor opera singer Enrico Caruso, his history and biography.

Enrico Caruso (1873-1921). Life for the most famous operatic tenor of all began at 7 Via Giovanello Agli Ottocalli in Naples, Italy, on February 25, 1873. It ended in the same city, August 2, 1921. He had gone there to recover from an infection of the lungs. In his short 48 years, Enrico--baptized Errico--Caruso became the highest paid singer in the world. So great was the demand that seats for his performances in Germany and Austria were auctioned to the highest bidder. In America, his tremendous drawing power built the Metropolitan Opera Company's box-office receipts to a staggering $100,000 per season, and made Caruso a millionaire.

Surprisingly, his American debut--on November 23, 1903, at the Met in the title role of Rigoletto--was unimpressive. Highly nervous with opening-night jitters, he was not in good voice, cracking on high notes. The audience was further annoyed with his distracting Italian mannerisms and an excessive use of what critics called "the Rubini sob." By the season's end, however, he had become a favorite.

Caruso began his career in 1891 when, as a promising 18-year-old, he was accepted as a pupil by Vergine. The canny voice teacher promptly signed him to a contract that Caruso had extreme difficulty in breaking 8 years later. Vergine was to receive 25% of all earnings for the 1st 5 years of actual singing, conditions which, in effect, snared Caruso for life. While bound by this contract, he made his official Naples debut on February 16, 1894, in L'Amico Fritz. In sitting for his 1st professional photograph, Caruso appeared with a bedspread draped about his shoulders--his only shirt was being laundered.

Recognition came rapidly. By 1898, he had created the tenor roles for Adrienna Lecouvreur and Fedora at Milan's Teatro Lirico. Three years later, he became a member of a La Scala, where he was featured in leading roles. In 1902, his fame widened, with contracts to sing 1st with Melba at Monte Carlo and then at Covent Garden, London. The Metropolitan's manager, Heinrich Conreid, brought him to America a year later.

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