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Enrico Caruso papers

 Collection
Identifier: PIMS-0072

Scope and Contents

The Enrico Caruso papers contain material from 1906 to 1921, arranged in six series. Series 1 contains both published and manuscript scores that belonged to Caruso. Some of the scores were composed by Caruso or dedicated to him. Many of the scores have been inscribed. Series 2 contains telegrams and letters from friends and family regarding Caruso’s marriage to Dorothy Benjamin and illness in 1920. Series 3 includes albums of photographs from Caruso’s personal life and career. Two books contain stills from Caruso’s role in the film My Cousin. Series 4 contains scrapbooks and clippings about Caruso’s performances, his illness, and his death. Also included are several books of caricatures and cartoons by Caruso relating to World War I. Series 5 contains matted and framed artwork of Caruso, mostly in portrait style. There are also several individual photographs of Caruso with various people. Series 6 includes a collection of recordings of Caruso’s performances, concert programs, a souvenir book, and a movie poster for the film The Splendid Romance, which Caruso starred in.

Dates

  • 1906 - 1921

Creator

Language of Materials

Materials primarily in English and Italian. Scrapbooks contain clippings in multiple languages, including English, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for use at the Peabody Archives. Contact peabodyarchives@lists.jhu.edu for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or perform materials in this collection must be submitted in writing to the archivist of the Arthur Friedheim Library.

Biographical / Historical

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.

Extent

30.29 Cubic Feet (3 half-size legal boxes, 2 full-size letter boxes, 30 medium flat boxes, 1 custom box, 39 large flat boxes)

Abstract

Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) was one of the most popular operatic tenors of his era. After beginning his career in his native Italy, Caruso immigrated to the United States and became a star at the Metropolitan Opera. His papers include manuscript and published scores belonging to Caruso, photographs, correspondence, scrapbooks and clippings about his career, caricatures and other artwork, recordings, and ephemera.

Other Finding Aids

A detailed inventory of the scores in series 1 exists offline. Please contact the Peabody Archives for more information.

"Finding Caruso," a 2006 catalog of the collection by Patricia Puckett, is available in print at the Arthur Friedheim Library: https://catalyst.library.jhu.edu/catalog/bib_2623919.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dorothy Benjamin Caruso in 1953, Judith Clark Adams in 2005, Richard D. Spivey in 1994, Helen Beale in 1997, and Agnes Utley Nixon in 1993.

Existence and Location of Copies

Some photo albums and scores in the collection are available in the library's digital collections at https://peabody.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16613coll8. Other digitized copies are available offline and can be made available by request.

Related Materials

The Peabody Archives contains other collections about opera history, including materials about Rosa Ponselle (PIMS.0004 and others).

Several biographies and recordings of Caruso are available in the Arthur Friedheim Library.

Materials Specific Details

Scrapbooks are extremely fragile and may require special handling.

Processing Information

Partially inventoried by Patricia Puckett in 2006 and C. Edwards in 2015. Reprocessed by Kerri Sheehan in 2017.

Creator

Source

Title
Guide to the Enrico Caruso papers
Author
Kerri Sheehan
Date
2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Archives Repository

Contact:
Peabody Institute
1 E. Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore MD 21202 USA