Italian operatic tenor (1873-1921). 2 letters signed. New York. 4to. 4 pp. 8vo. 6 pp. with two punch holes in upper margins with minor loss to text.
$ 2,644 / 2.500 €
„Vorrei, tante volte, ritornare invietro di 25 anni e essere quel piccolo tenore al quale non si questava attenzione!“, Enrico Caruso writes to his friend James O'Connell (“Mio Carissimo D. Giacomino" or "Caro D. Giacomino"), in Italian. „Sometimes I just wish I could turn back 25 years and be that little tenor that nobody paid any attention to!“
The first letter from January 12, 1920 is written on „Hotel Knickerbocker" stationery, Caruso is explaining that he had not decided on the baptism date for Gloria, adding that the Marquis and Marquess Cappelli have offered to be the godparents, apologizing for the miscommunication when he last visited, and asking to convey his devotion to His Eminence.
The second letter on personal stationary (“East Hampton“) from July 22, 1920 is describing how a bomb exploded in the Havana theater where he was to perform, briefly describing his daily routine including the four hours he spends on correspondence, dreaming of again being a young tenor with no responsibilities, hoping that he and his family are well, including His Eminence, and, in a postscript, conveying his wife's greetings and adding that Gloria says hello using her new teeth: "[...] The bomb was placed in a corner of a restroom on the top level, obviously with the idea not to cause victims but rather damage to the building since it is privately owned. To everything there is a comical side and when the explosion happened, I was in my dressing room. I ran out on the stage right away but was bodily rushed out and, dressed as I was, put in a private car, escorted by a warrior on horseback [...] to my house. That was the end of the Havana visit, a visit that gave me a lot to think about because, being Italian and being down there with all the Spanish artists, I had to fight and I won honorably. [...] Time has been passing with playing tennis and bridge, going fishing and taking care of my correspondence for about four hours a day, then studying, reading the papers, taking care of my accounts, receiving visitors, and answering telephone calls from lawyers and detectives. There is no shortage of lawyers and insurance agents giving us their advice, nor of anonymous letters of insults and blackmail. So this is my pastime, aside from being the head of the family . [...] Sometimes I just wish I could turn back 25 years and be that little tenor that nobody paid any attention to! [...]“
Encolosed is the invoice for the first letter and several photographs of other personalities by established Autograph Firm Walter R. Benjamin from April 14, 1947.
Enrico Caruso (original name Errico Caruso) was born in Naples, Italy, and became the most admired Italian operatic tenor of the early 20th century and one of the first musicians to document his voice on recordings. He made his La Scala debut with La Bohème (1900). In 1901, after being unfavourably received in his performance in L’elisir d’amore in Naples, he vowed never again to sing in Naples, and he kept his word. World recognition came in the spring of 1902 after he sang in La Bohème at Monte Carlo and in Rigoletto at London’s Covent Garden. He made his American debut in Rigoletto at the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on November 23, 1903, and continued to open each season there for the next 17 years, presenting 36 roles in all. His last public appearance—his 607th performance with the Metropolitan Opera—was as Eléazar in La Juive (December 24, 1920). Caruso became the most celebrated and highest paid of his contemporaries worldwide. He made recordings of about 200 operatic excerpts and songs; many of them are still being published. His voice was sensuous, lyrical, and vigorous in dramatic outbursts and became progressively darker in timbre in his later years. Its appealing tenor qualities were unusually rich in lower registers and abounded in warmth, vitality, and smoothness. (Source: Britannica)
James P.E. O'Connell (d. 1948) was the nephew of His Eminence William Henry O’Connell, Cardinal and Archbishop of Boston..