Thursday, September 06, 2007, 9:03 PM // 1 comments

"Who sent you?" asked the composer. "God?"

Enrico CarusoI was saddened to hear that Luciano Pavarotti passed away today at the age of 71. He was truly one of the great operatic voices of the modern age. There were tenors, and then there was Pavarotti. If my father were alive, however, he'd say there were tenors, and then there was Caruso.

A world of music opened up for dad when he heard the voice of Enrico Caruso pealing out of his father's Victrola.

I recall dad saying that as soon as he heard Caruso had the same reaction Giacomo Puccini experienced when the tenor auditioned for him. "Who sent you?" asked the composer. "God?"

Dad became so fascinated with Caruso, his mother took him to the Free Library of Philadelphia to read newspaper accounts of the tenor's death in 1921.

Every day when dad went to work in Philadelphia on the bus, he used to look down on the RCA Victor building and think of Caruso making his recordings there.

When I listen to Caruso or Pavorotti I close my eyes and think of dad listening to opera: Dad would mouth the words to the opera with so much intensity you'd think he was the tenor belting out Verdi's "La Donna e Mobile." I guess that's the operatic version of air guitar.

A few years before dad died I asked him to help me with compiling a CD worth of operatic arias. I didn't know anything about opera and thought this would be a great way to learn. Dad was so into this mix. He called me all the time with suggestions and ideas. What started off with me asking for a few suggestions turned into dad's vision. He was so proud of what we accomplished that when we finished he asked me to burn a bunch of CDs to give to his friends.

Here's a few of the highlights from dad's last great mix tape.

Listen / Download:
A'Vucchella - Enrico Caruso
Vesti La Giubba - Luciano Pavarotti
La Donna e Mobile - Beniamino Gigli
Core N'Grato - Tito Schipa
Notturno - Pietro Mascagni

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Anonymous Segundo said...

What can I say about my Pop and opera that my brother didn't? Let's see...Well, my Pop's love of the music was an extension of his love for his parents. My grandfather loved traditional opera A LOT and my grandmother was more of a fan of opera singers that crossed over into the mainstream (i.e. Tito Schippa or Lanza). Either way, my dad was exposed to this kind of music from Day 1, which is what he did with us with Frank. His father had a ton of 78s, sometimes entire operas, which would be spread out over many 78s, collected in bound books (supposedly this is where the term "album" came from, as applied to music). When my father collected his own Caruso, in the early 60s, it was on LP collections, which prob. boggled my grandfather's mind to see so many songs in a single place. Years later, when I got bit by the Caruso bug (listening to my father's LPs), I convinced him to buy a 12 CD set of everything the tenor had recorded. It was my Pop's turn to be stunned, bec. now it was more Caruso than his father had ever owned, all in one small box. Before Pop passed on, I took it one step futher and put the entire collection, as mp3s, on a single DVD-Rom and put it in his hand. Not only was he thrilled to hear so much music with the push of a single button, he was thrilled that the music he'd heard his entire life--and had entertained his father so much--would survive for future generations, especially with his sons to keep it alive.

10:58 AM  

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