Enrico Caruso was born on Feb. 25, 1873, in Naples, Italy. He was the 18th of 21 children, only three of whom lived beyond infancy. The family was poor. As a boy, Caruso worked in a machine shop and ironworks.
Determined to be a singer, he sang in churches and on street corners to earn money for lessons. When he was called into the army, a high officer was so impressed by Caruso's powerful yet melodic voice that he released him to continue studying.
In 1894 Caruso made his formal debut
in Naples in an unsuccessful opera, `L'Amico Francesco'. National acclaim
came in 1898 when he created the role of Loris in Umberto Giordano's `Fedora'.
His debut at the noted La Scala in Milan was in `La Bohme' in 1900. In
1902 he sang with Nellie Melba at Monte Carlo and then at London's Covent
Garden, in Rome and Lisbon, and in South America. In 1903 he made his American
debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, where he sang the role
of the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's`Rigoletto'
With the Italian soprano Ada Giochetti, he had four sons, of whom two lived. In 1918 he married Dorothy Benjamin of New York. Theyhad one daughter. Caruso died in Naples on Aug. 2, 1921, of pleurisy.