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Enrico Caruso, the first global superstar of the gramophone era
February 16, 2012 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Although many fine divas stamped their mark on early recording, it was the tenor voice of Caruso which was the defining voice of the early twentieth century. His reputation was due to the fact that people could not only hear him in their own homes, but that his success could actually be measured in record sales; he was the first global superstar of the gramophone era. Enrico Caruso was the first recording artist with a million-selling record ("Vesti la Giubba," from Pagliacci), and his recordings of 10 songs 'made the gramophone' in 1902. He went on to make about commercial 490 recordings, and there is even more unreleased material.

Caruso was part of the first live radio broadcast in 1910, which was broadcast from the New York Met Opera, one of his 863 appearances at the Metropolitan Opera House. The professional career of singer, caricaturist, and actor lasted 25 years, from 1895 to 1920. The tenor died at 48, after months of declining health.
posted by filthy light thief (14 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Enrico Caruso, twice previously:
* Enrico Caruso, remastered for free (October 18, 2009): not sure if this feature is still available on the linked website(s)
* Collected works of Enrico Caruso (September 14, 2005): 100 and 28 recordings on Archive.org
posted by filthy light thief at 1:43 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If only he could have made it to Iquitos. Well, at least one man tried.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:43 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


OMG he looks exactly like Kevin Pollack. Great post, thanks!
posted by Melismata at 1:53 PM on February 16, 2012


He was also one of the survivors of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.
posted by wellvis at 1:58 PM on February 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Excellent thread, thank you.
posted by timshel at 2:23 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good God, I grew up with my Dad's 78s of him.
posted by dowcrag at 2:35 PM on February 16, 2012


Discogs has a few recordings listed, and some of the old 78 RPM shellac discs include scans, going back to 1904.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:47 PM on February 16, 2012


Arg. I botched the last link. Try again: going back ton 1904.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:47 PM on February 16, 2012


I have two compilations of his, one with the scratches and blips of the 78s, and one with them digitally removed. I only ever listen to the first one. It's one of my desert island records.

Renault TruFax: One of the bank tellers in my hometown was a Caruso granddaughter. She was very surprised that someone asked her if she was related to the Great Caruso -- she thought he was forgotten.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:05 PM on February 16, 2012


More fascinating Caruso gramophone trivia: his old recordings were there at the birth of modern Digital Audio.

Several decades ago, I heard a vague anecdote about someone who went to an Audio Engineering Society convention, and had attended a sound seminar where they played old Caruso recordings (without pops and hisses! mind-boggling at the time!) to a stunned audience. It was announced that this was the future of Audio, as we know it.

Wikipedia:
Also in 1976, Soundstream restored acoustic (pre-electronic) recordings of Enrico Caruso, by digitizing the recordings on a computer, and processing them using a technique called 'blind deconvolution'. These were released by RCA Records as "Caruso - A Legendary Performer"
posted by ovvl at 3:41 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm undecided between Caruso and Pavarotti for my favorite Vesti la Giubba. Boccelli comes a distant third. I keep telling myself that if the recordings were of the same quality, Caruso would win.

But my absolute Caruso favorite recording is "o sole mio" (sentimental slob that I am.)
posted by francesca too at 4:13 PM on February 16, 2012


Having a lot of fun listening to Caruso on YouTube and Wikipedia and I'm saving the 128 songs for later. Thanks!
posted by dragonplayer at 6:30 PM on February 16, 2012


my absolute Caruso favorite recording is "o sole mio"

You should try dancing the night to La Donna e Mobile. I brushed her thigh and she swooned.

Good times.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:32 PM on February 16, 2012


twoleftfeet, you went from suave romancer to casually remembering an amusing anecdote in two words. Impressive.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:28 AM on February 17, 2012


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