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