Enrico Caruso was an Italian tenor who became famous for his unique voice after performing around the world. Born in Naples in 1873, Caruso studied voice with Guglielmo Vergine and Vincenzo Lombardi. He made his debut in Mario Morelli’s L’amico francesco in Naples in 1894 but achieved real success in 1897 performing Ponchielli’s La Gioconda in Palermo. As Caruso gained success, he performed frequently in major tenor roles including Canio (Pagliacci), Rodolfo (La bohème), Cavaradossi (Tosca), Radames (Aida), and Riccardo (Un ballo in maschera).
In all, Caruso gave approximately 850 performances, singing in a number of American cities with the Metropolitan Opera. He also toured in Latin America and Europe. Caruso’s voice was unique in that it was nearly considered baritone because of its deep tone. The full sound of baritone mixed with the smooth quality of a tenor made Caruso’s voice recognizable and popular. Caruso recorded extensively for the phonograph while also appearing in two motion pictures. He passed away in Naples in 1921 from a lung ailment.