Before Pavarotti, before Bocelli, before Gigli, the extraordinary Enrico Caruso set the template for the massive-lunged, cavern-throated, fat-but-romantic Italian operatic tenor that became a 20th-century archetype. His significance lies not just in his uniquely powerful-but-lyrical voice (he could hit top C, even late in life) but his embrace of modern recording and communication systems.
One of the first classical singers to be recorded on the new phonograph, he was the first to sell 1m copies of a record – "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci, in 1907. Through RCA Victor his appeal went transatlantic. He was leading tenor at the New York Met for 18 consecutive seasons.
He appeared in newsreels, commercial movies, even an experimental film by Thomas Edison. And he remained rudely Italian: in 1906 he was fined $10 for pinching a woman's bottom in the monkey house of Central Park Zoo.


  1. [ John Walsh, Fast cars to Latin lovers: Italy's top 15 cultural exports in The Indipendent (Saturday, 12 March 2011) ]


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