Called the greatest singer of all time, operatic tenor Enrico Caruso (1873–1921) was born on this day in Naples, Italy, the 18th of 21 children. He began singing with passion at a young age and studied seriously with Guglielmo Vergine in 1891.
"It was Vergine who emphasized the necessity of singing as nature intended," said Caruso, whose interpretation of Pagliacci's Vesti La Giubba was emotional magic.
Known for the rare beauty and power of his voice, he made his operatic debut in L'Amico Franceso in 1895. With the urging of British talent scout, Fred Gaisberg, Caruso recorded a few arias on the gramophone, at the time a new invention. Audiences were able to hear Caruso's perfect pitch and anticipate his performances. These landmark recordings made Caruso the first international recording superstar.
"My...records," said Caruso, "will be my biography."
He took London by storm in 1902 and followed a year later with a triumphant American debut in Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera. In his career, the flamboyant genius sang over 50 roles in Italian and French operas.
Caruso's life was immortalized in the film The Great Caruso (1951). Mario Lanza's performance as Caruso was a tribute to his childhood idol and kept the spirit of "The King of Tenor" alive for future generations.
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