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Stage & Screen: The Star Quality of Vanderbilt's Performing Arts Collections: Enrico Caruso

Caruso and the Victrola:

Caruso was the first opera star to embrace the new recording technologies of the early twentieth-century. He entered into an agreement with the Victor Talking Machine Company (which became RCA Victor) to make and sell recordings of his voice. This arrangement was financially lucrative for both Caruso and Victor, and cemented Caruso's reputation as the world's greatest tenor.

An advertisement for Caruso's new records for the Victor Talking Machine Company, 1906.

An illustration of famous Victor artists by B. Graeme, 1915.

Enrico Caruso: The World's Greatest Tenor:

Enrico Caruso (1873–1921), an Italian tenor, is considered the greatest operatic tenor to have lived and the first opera star to make best-selling recordings. His signature role was Canio, the traveling clown in Ruggiero Leoncavallo's I pagliacci. 

Learn More About Caruso:

Books About Caruso:

  • Enrico Caruso, Jr., Enrico Caruso: My Father and My Family (Portland: Amadeus Press, 1990). Music Library ML420 .C259 C3 1990.  
  • Michael Scott, The Great Caruso (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1988). Music Library ML420 .C259 S3 1988.
  • Bruno Zirato, et al, eds., A Century of Caruso (New York: Metropolitan Opera Guild, 1975). Music Library ML420 .C259 C468 1975.

Sound Recordings by Caruso:

  • The Complete Caruso: Including the Original Victor Talking Machine Co. Master Recordings (New York: RCA Victor Gold Seal, 1990). Music Library CD MUS-1237.
  • The Record of Singing (1899-1952) (EMI, 2009), disc 2, vol. 2, track 5, "Una furtiva lagrima" from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore. Music Library CD MUS-13447.