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Enrico CARUSO (tenor) (1873-1921)
The Complete Recordings: Volume 11 (1918-1919)
MICHELENA

‘A In luz de la luna’, (Emilio de Gogorza, baritone)
COSTA
‘Sei morta ne In vita mia’, (Victor Special Christmas 1947 issue for Victor dealers)
ALVAREZ
‘La Partida’, ‘A Granada’
GiuseppeVERDI (1813-1901)
La Forza del Destino,Nè gustare m’è dato; Sleale! Il segreto fu dunque violato?’. (Giuseppe De Luca, baritone)
COHAN

‘Over There’
NIEDERMEYER

Pietà, Signore’
BILLI (arr. Malfetti)
‘Campane a sera ‘Ave Maria’
OLIVIERI

‘Inno di Garibaldi’
ARONA
‘La Campana di San Giusto’
PLANQUETTE
‘Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse’
FUCITO

‘Sultanto a Tte’
Camille SAINT-SAENS (1835-1921)

Samson et Dalila, ‘Je viens célébrer la victoire’ (Louise Homer, mezzo; Marcel Journet, bass)
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1868)
L'Elisir d'Amore, ‘Venti scudi’ (Giuseppe De Luca, baritone)
Francesco Paolo TOSTI (1846-1916)

‘A vucchella’
TRADITIONAL
‘Vieni sul mar’
DE CURTIS
‘Tu, ca nun chiagne’
COTTRAU
‘Addio a Napoli’
Recorded in Camden, New Jersey, in April, July and September 1918; January, February and September 1919. Accompanied by the ‘Victor Orchestra’. Cond. Josef Pasternack
Bargain Price
NAXOS HISTORICAL GREAT SINGERS SERIES 8.110752 [66.43]

 

The years 1918-1919 were momentous for the world as well as for Caruso’s personal and professional life, all being inexorably intertwined.

World War I had a profound effect on the singer’s professional life. Since the spring of 1915 he had made no appearances in England, France or Germany. Whilst depending on his work at the ‘Met’ and his recordings for the major component of his income, he added recital work in South America as a substitute for his lost European opportunities. When America entered the War in 1917, on the side of England, France and Italy, the singer threw himself into support of the cause. There were benefit concerts and recordings of patriotic songs such as ‘Over There’(tr. 5) and ‘Le Regiment’ (tr. 11) for the English and French speakers. ‘Inno di Garibaldi’ (tr. 9) and ‘La Campana’ (tr. 10) gave spirit to his fellow Italians. None of these items are great music and all are well within the man’s vocal compass. Caruso was then at the height of his powers with a rich, warm, wide-ranging tenor, which while having a baritonal hue, was capable of light tone (tr. 12) and mezza voce honeyed head voice (tr. 6).

The 1918-1919 season at the ‘Met’ saw his first performance there in Verdi’s ‘La Forza del Destino’. The duet included here, recorded the previous July, is a foretaste of that event. Rather than the standard ‘Solenne in quest’ora’, we have the later confrontation when Don Alvaro faces the fact that Don Carlo has discovered his true identity and wishes to fight him to the death (tr. 4). The singing of both Caruso and de Luca is of the highest quality of tone, expression and characterisation, although it has to be said that the conducting does not have the same distinction.

The other operatic items, ‘Venti Scudi’ (tr. 14), again with de Luca, and the Samson trio ‘Je viens célébrer’ (tr. 13), with the firm tones of Louise Homer and Marcel Journet show Caruso as a very fine ‘team’ player, interacting vocally with his colleagues. The disc concludes with four ‘Neapolitan Songs’ recorded in September 1919 after the singer’s return from introducing his new wife to his estate in Italy; not an entirely happy visit as Italy was in something approaching Marxist revolutionary fervour at the time. It might have been relief, or joy in matrimony, but the ease of vocalisation and delicacy of phrasing of these relatively light trifles is a delight and a fitting conclusion to this interesting and varied disc (trs. 15-18).

Robert J Farr

 



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