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The World's Greatest Tenors - Enrico Caruso

Updated on December 4, 2012

Enrico Caruso


The World’s Greatest Tenors – Enrico Caruso


As long as I can remember, whenever great tenors were mentioned, the name Enrico Caruso always came up. Caruso was the benchmark by which all other great tenors were judged.


Surprisingly, I was in my early 30s before I actually heard one of his recordings. I had been turned on to opera listening to Mario Lanza sing arias. Most of his opera recordings were the same songs that Caruso had sung 50 years earlier so I made an effort to locate some original Caruso recording, which were made using the old acoustic recording techniques. I was amazed at how good they still sounded. In particular, I was impressed with

"Una furtiva lagrima".


Enrico Caruso


Between 1902 and 1920 Caruso made 290 recordings all using the acoustical recording technique. While other opera singers refused to make records, Caruso pioneered the way. Soon other artists started to record too when they saw how much money he was making.


His 1904 recording of

"Vesti la giubba"

was the first one to sell a million copies.


Enrico Caruso


Caruso was born in Naples, Italy in 1873. His father worked in a foundry and apprenticed young Enrico to work for a mechanical engineer. When his mother died in 1888, Caruso raised money to help support the family by working as a street singer in Naples and by performing in cafes. In 1895, he made his first stage appearance in an amateur opera and later appeared throughout Italy until he was hired in 1900 to sing at La Scala.


In 1903, Caruso began his long career with the Metropolitan Opera, which included 863 appearances and record 17 opening night performances and which was finally broken in 1997 by Placido Domingo. By then he had overcome most of his early technical problems, which were caused by his poor early training. His next two recordings are two of my favorites –

"O Sole Mio" and

"E lucevan le stelle".


The World's Greatest Tenor

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On December 3, 1920, a piece of scenery fell and hit Caruso during the last act of Samson and Dalila. He died of complications on August 2, 1921 at the height of his career. He was only 48 years old.


The world owes a great deal to Enrico Caruso. Not only was he a great performer, but he opened up the world of opera to the common man by pioneering sound recordings and by his many appearances throughout the world. He also participated in the first public radio broadcast live from the Metropolitan Opera House in 1910.


However, I have a very special reason of my own for being indebted to Enrico Caruso. On New Years Eve of 1992, I attended a small gathering at my niece’s home. She also invited a young woman that she worked with. After the ball dropped announcing the New Year, she stayed around and we watched Mario Lanza in "The Great Caruso". Last fall we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.


I will close this hub with Caruso’s version of "Core ‘ngrato" (Ungrateful heart). Caruso was at his best when singing songs that were filled with great emotion.





To visit my complete list of the world’s best tenors along with limited biographical information and links to their individual Hubs, go to:

The Worlds Greatest Tenors


Naples, Italy

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Naples Collage

Naples, Italy where Enrico Caruso grew up.

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