Naples, 1873 – Naples, 1921
Life and History
Enrico Caruso was born into a poor Neapolitan family, that his father, a simple worker, supported through times of hardship. His mother helped out by cleaning homes. Enrico was sent to school until he was ten, at which point he went to work with his father in the foundry. His mother, however, wanted him to continue studying and enrolled him in night school. At school, he discovered that be was both a gifted drawer and singer.
He first began to sing in the church choir and was lead by various teachers. He then began to hold concerts with other passionate singers in local coffee shops, as a way to add to the family income. This is how he met Eduardo Missino, who introduced Enrico to his first opera teacher, Guglielmo Vergine.
During this time, he had been called to report for military service, but his brother sent instead so that Enrico could continue his studies. He made his debut in 1894 with a part in L’amico Francesco by Domenico Morelli, beginning his career as a professional singer.
During a trip to Livorno, Enrico met his first partner, Ada Giacchetti, a soprano who was already married with children. Enrico spent eleven years with Ada and together they had two children.
After touring Europe, Argentina and Russia, Enrico sang at La Scala and was directed by Toscanini. Enrico’s voice and vocal capabilities were criticized, however, after a performance at San Carlo, the opera theater in his own hometown of Naples. After receiving the criticism, Enrico swore never to return to San Carlo. Instead, he was invited to perform in London, Munich and at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
In 1890, Enrico felt the first signs of his advanced laryngitis, which sent him back to Italy for an operation. After the surgery, he was only able to sing when given long periods to rest due to his very sore throat.
Enrico was a loved performer, especially abroad, and was considered the greatest tenor of all times. Part of his success can be attributed to the fact that he was the first opera singer to make a record. In addition to opera, he had a repertory of Neapolitan songs that he sang in part out of nostalgia for his country and in part to console the Italians who had recently emigrated to America.
In 1918, he married his second love, Dorothy Benjamin, an American woman. At forty-eight years old, Enrico developed a lung problem and had to undergo an operation. He decided to return to Italy for the treatment and to visit his hometown. He made it as far as Sorrento, where he died before being able to get to Rome for his next doctor’s visit.
The recipe was created by the great tenor, who was loved more than everything else the pasta typical of his native Naples: the story has it that, since he was given a cold reception by his fellow-citizens, Caruso swore he would never sing in Naples again but he would return there only to enjoy his favourite maccheroni.Ingredients (serves 4)
- ⅝ lb bucatini
- san marzano tomatoes to taste
- 1 pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 chily pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
(25 minutes preparation + 12 minutes cooking)
Stir-fry the garlic cloves cut in quarters in oil; when they start to turn golden, remove them and add the chopped tomatoes and the pepper cut in chunks. Turn up the heat and add the oregano, crushed chili and a generous amount of basil to the sauce.
In the meanwhile, cut the zucchini into rounds, coat them with flour and deep-fry. Cook the pasta al dente in salted boiling water, drain and dress with the tomato sauce, the deep-fried zucchini and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
W. PASSADORE, Famosi e golosi: a tavola con i personaggi della storia, Bologna, Fuori Thema, .