Enrico Caruso, remastered for free
October 18, 2009 9:18 PM   Subscribe

Enrico Caruso Remastered. Aside from his musical skill and his tempestuous character, he was also known in the English-speaking world as a gentlemanly public figure, and patriot.
posted by StrikeTheViol (18 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The remastered versions seems to be a mashup of the old vocals and a modern symphony recording. I was expecting a remastering of the old recordings.

I'm not into opera in general but Caruso had one helluva voice.
posted by jabo at 10:08 PM on October 18, 2009

his tempestuous character

That's it? He disabled some infernal clacking servo-driven clock in his hotel, inadvertently halting the whole cockamamie building-wide contraption? That was a civilizing endeavor.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:30 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I heard he pinched a woman's bottom and blamed it on a monkey.
posted by tellurian at 10:36 PM on October 18, 2009

Ah! The Monkey House Incident.
posted by tellurian at 10:49 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

From the wonderful "Everything But the Girl" song,

Then someone sat me down last night, and I heard Caruso sing.
He's almost as good as Presley, and if I only do one thing,
I'll sing songs to my father, I'll sing songs to my child.
It's time to hold your loved ones while the chains are loose,
and the world runs wild.
posted by vac2003 at 11:02 PM on October 18, 2009

Movie buffs may also recall the 1951 (often fictiona) film bio "The Great Caruso", starring the then-popular Mario Lanza.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:18 PM on October 18, 2009

Nice find, thanks.
posted by Cranberry at 11:45 PM on October 18, 2009

I wish I got this. I really do. In the same way that I grasp the music of Robert Johnson and the Carter family and J.S. Bach and Minor Threat and stuff. But I don't get it, I profoundly don't. I lack the frame I need to put it in. Sucks to be me, I guess. Opera had always been the most esoteric of the arts. Don't know where, how, or if I should start.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:12 AM on October 19, 2009

This makes me happy. I love Caruso's voice. He just had something that is so rare, and so few spinto tenors have it. Giovanni Martinelli had it, but perhaps to a lesser degree than Caruso did. And even as much as I admire Plácido Domingo for all of the many wonderful things he has done, and as beautiful as his voice is, he's no match for Caruso in terms of brightness and glow in his voice, especially when pushed to its fullest.
posted by strixus at 3:51 AM on October 19, 2009

BitterOldPunk, opera is one of those things that I love, and know an insane amount about, without really understanding how I know it or when I learned it - like tea roses, but even more esoteric. It is worth your time to at least know some of the classics of the genre by story, and the famous parts of each, even if you can't understand them or identify obscure random trivia about the works. Verdi, Mozart, Wagner, Weber, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Bizet, and so on... all worth your time.
posted by strixus at 3:56 AM on October 19, 2009

I wish I got this. I really do. In the same way that I grasp the music of Robert Johnson and the Carter family and J.S. Bach and Minor Threat and stuff. But I don't get it, I profoundly don't. I lack the frame I need to put it in. Sucks to be me, I guess. Opera had always been the most esoteric of the arts. Don't know where, how, or if I should start.

From my experience, if you love the Carter family then you're half the way to loving Enrico Caruso. I don't have a proper "frame" for opera in general but believe the way I listen to, interpret and appreciate Caruso is entirely consistent with the way I do the Carter family. Both are dusty, nostalgic and have incredibly powerful projections of longing and sadness. There is audible history in the recordings of both (scratchy, de-tuned) and this adds to the power of the performances and to my listening experience, in some way. Caruso and the Carter family stir the same emotions and exist in the same world (frame) in my head even though the songs and styles couldn't be more different.

Everyone interprets music differently (as evidenced by these "remastered" Caruso recordings, which I think are unnecessary and unlistenable) but I think the more music one listens to, the easier it becomes to create frames of reference and to discover the intricacies of what makes your taste in music your taste in music. There's always a good reason to start listening to nearly anything.

Like the other forms of music you mention, opera has a long, varying history with many branches and sub-branches etc. so perhaps another mefite can jump in with a "best of" list, or something (on preview: strixus). If you're interested in Caruso then you can find a great collection of tracks at archive.org for free. (Previously, the thread that introduced me to Caruso and started everything.) Your local library will hopefully have, at the very least, a Pavarotti or Maria Callas greatest hits CD, neither of which would be a bad place to start.
posted by timshel at 4:14 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

I would never recommend this with anything else, but if you read youtube comments on recording snippets you will often get a good idea of what people are listening for and to in opera. It's the only use for youtube comments I've ever been able to find.
posted by winna at 5:06 AM on October 19, 2009

BitterOldPunk, I didn't used to get it either. Then I saw a few, thanks to a relative.
for me, it's all about context. The voices and music are really lovely, but Opera is also the drama and performances. Live performance is such a fun and amazing event.
posted by annsunny at 9:41 AM on October 19, 2009

Don't know where, how, or if I should start.

Oh, definitely start--opera is a musical and dramatic medium that some really, really fantastic artists have made their best creative efforts in, for almost three centuries now. I recommend either starting with either a listener-friendly classic or something very new (the classic will likely have many sounds that are familiar, and a conventional narrative structure; something very new will have contemporary resonance with our world, and is often easier to connect with, counter-intuitively).

So I recommend either Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro (remember that you often have to get a couple minutes into the scene for the song to actually start, the part that probably loses your interest is called recitative, where the players are sort of sing-talking):

Start at the end! Here all the mistaken identity and confusion is cleared up, and love reigns.

Some amazing vocal sextet writing, celebrating a couple of weddings ("recognize a mother in this hug")

How about this great insult fight between an older, rich lady and younger, hotter one (spoiler: the younger chick wins when she compliments the older woman on her impressively advanced age.)

(summary of plot here.)

OR, how about something very timely, an opera by John Adams about the invention of nuclear weapons, Doctor Atomic (bonus: in English):

Oppenheimer wonders what they've wrought: Batter My Heart.

Testing the bomb: Red Alert.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:44 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, I don't think of opera as esoteric at all. You can also focus the voice as a musical instrument, and compare to a guitar solo by Jimi Hendrix, or a duet between Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. On one level, it's about the story and lyrics. But on another level, it's about expressing and sustaining a melodic line at the limits of human performance.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:46 AM on October 19, 2009

It's what Rob Halford does, but 1000 times better.
posted by snsranch at 7:18 PM on October 19, 2009

Previously. I've listened to these recordings many times. They are magnificent.
posted by neuron at 9:04 PM on October 19, 2009

My personal favorite of his in English is Love is Mine.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:27 AM on October 24, 2009

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