Reference Entry

Caruso, Enrico

Robert L. Gale

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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Caruso, Enrico (25 February 1873–02 August 1921), opera singer, was born (and christened) Errico Caruso in Naples, Italy, the son of Marcellino Caruso, a mechanic, and Anna Baldini. When Caruso was ten his mother sent him to school for rudimentary lessons and voice training; he also studied voice privately. He became an apprentice at a mechanical plant, where his drawing ability attracted attention. He appeared in an amateur opera when he was fourteen and later sang at church services. Within months of his mother’s death in 1888 Caruso’s father remarried (Caruso was devoted to his stepmother). Working as a mechanic and then a factory accountant, Caruso also sang in churches and cafes for substantial pay. In 1891 he took lessons from Maestro Guglielmo Vergine, who forced him to sign a contract that amounted to extortion. At age twenty Caruso was drafted into the Italian army but was released a few weeks later when his voice was praised by a friend of his major. Caruso debuted in Naples in 1895, performing in a poor opera written by a wealthy local composer. Substantial operatic roles at Caserta and Naples followed....

Reference Entry.  1268 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Voice

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