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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Caruso in a Silent Movie from 1918

Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)
no copyright infringement intended

I was twelve or thirteen when I saw a movie dedicated to the life of Caruso. It was The Great Caruso, an American film made in 1951, and the famous tenor was played by Mario Lanza. To say that I was enthusiastic would be a too weak word. That movie made me an opera fan. I recently tried to find The Great Caruso (or fragments from it) on the web, without success. I found instead a fragment from an Italian movie from the same epoch, Enrico Caruso: leggenda di una voce. Here the voice was provided by Mario del Monaco. And, watching the small fragment on youTube, I was wondering if there were visual recordings keeping the voice of Caruso himself.

Well, what I found out was that the greatest tenor of all times played also in a couple of silent movies, and that he was a good actor. Here in My Cousin (made in 1918), he was in a dual role: an impoverished sculptor and his cousin, a famous opera singer. The two cousins were totally different each other, and Caruso was perfectly natural in both characters.

My Cousin (1918)
piano accompaniment recorded in 2011 by Glenn Amer
(video by hammondmania)

It's astonishing to have here a voiceless Caruso, while his areas are played at the piano. A small detail: Caruso's skills as a caricaturist are displayed in the restaurant scene when he quickly does a sketch on the back of his bill of two men slurping their spaghetti (imdb).

(Early Movies)



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