Enrico Caruso

Enrico Caruso

Naples, Città Metropolitana di Napoli, Campania, Italy
Death 2 Aug 1921 (aged 48)
Naples, Città Metropolitana di Napoli, Campania, Italy
Burial Naples, Città Metropolitana di Napoli, Campania, Italy
Memorial ID 1852 · View Source
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Opera Singer. Born in Naples, Italy, in his young days his singing was in demand, either at the local church or some special festivities. At the age of fifteen his mother was seriously ill, she insisted he must sing, upon return after mass found her dead. His father remarried and the family ultimately reached 22 children. With very little formal or musical education he learned and refined his theatrical skills throughout his life on his own. Singing first in provincial theaters and later with touring companies, Caruso gradually made his way to opera houses in Milan and London, England then to the Metropolitan in New York City, New York debuting in "Rigoletto" at the opening night. He continued to open each season for the next 17 years, presenting 36 roles in all. Although many countries and opera houses clamored for his appearances, he made the Metropolitan Opera his home base and with his fellow countryman Arturo Toscanini established this company as the greatest opera house in the world. His 607th appearance at the Met was his last public appearance. His personal life was operatic, only in this case a soap opera. He had brushes with Italian gangsters in New York City who attempted to extort money from him. While visiting the Central Park Zoo, a mysterious woman accused him of molesting her in the monkey house. Although married, he pursued a relationship with an Italian soprano star which produced two sons. He finally met his match in Dorothy Park Benjamin, a woman 20 years his junior whom he married in the Dutch Reformed Church (Marble Church) in New York City. Although the marriage lasted but two years because of his death, a daughter was born and Dorothy was by his side during his illness and ultimate death. He was worn out by exhaustion and lung ailments. After a year of illness, operations and convalescing, the family returned to Naples taking a suite at the Hotel Vittoria in Naples where he painfully died at age 48. These rooms are today as he left them and are called the Caruso Suite. The King of Italy gave orders for the Basilica di San Francesco di Paola normally reserved for royal occasions to be the site of Enrico Caruso's High Requiem Mass. His crystal casket was taken to Del Planto Cemetery and placed in a temporary chapel with continued viewing that lasted for eight years until his widow put a stop to this spectacle and sealed the vault. His body was redressed each year with a new suit. The famous Ajello Candle makers created a memorial candle for the opera singer towering over 18 feet tall and weighing one ton, 8 feet in circumference and made to last for 1800 years burning one day each year on the anniversary of Enrico's birth. The legacy of Caruso survives in his Victor recordings which have been remastered to a compact disk format with classical and the popular songs. Before Caruso, the gramophone was a novelty, his recordings created an industry where sound could be kept and listened to at anytime. Caruso was an able caricaturist and displayed some talent as a sculptor. He delighted in sketching caricatures of himself and his acquaintances. His most memorable were made during the San Francisco Earthquake drawing a series of sketches depicting his experiences which were published in the San Francisco Chronicle. His life was the subject of a highly fictionalized Hollywood motion picture "The Great Caruso" made in 1951 starring Mario Lanza. The Enrico Caruso Museum of America is located in Brooklyn. It features many personal items including his death mask and boasts a 20 seat theatre furnished with chairs and items from the old Metropolitan Opera House before it was demolished.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1852
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Enrico Caruso (25 Feb 1873–2 Aug 1921), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1852, citing Cimitero di Santa Maria del Pianto, Naples, Città Metropolitana di Napoli, Campania, Italy ; Maintained by Find A Grave .