Enrico Caruso "Qui sotto il ciel" Gli Ugonotti (Meyerbeer) 1903 = Anglo American Commerce Co.
The tenor makes the announcements at the start of this recording.
Yes, that is Caruso talking.
Enrico Caruso sings "Qui sotto il ciel" from the opera Gli Ugonotti by Giancomo Meyerbeer (the French spell the name this way: Les Huguenots).
This was issued in disc format and cylinder format.
Caruso made this for the Anglo-Italian Commerce Company in Milan. It was then issued by Pathé Frerés on cylinder and disc. To play the disc, the needle is placed near the disc's center, and the needle or arm of the phonograph travels to the outside rim as the record plays--not how we normally play discs.
Caruso had already made recordings in 1902 for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company (early EMI).
On April 11, 1902, Caruso was paid by the Gramophone & Typewriter Company’s Fred Gaisberg to sing ten numbers into a recording horn in a Milan hotel room. The fee was 100 pounds sterling. The tenor sang to piano accompaniment. Gaisberg (either Fred or his brother Will) wrote “Carusso” on early wax blanks.
As time passed, people looked back and viewed this session as giving birth to a new era.
Before 1902, opera recordings aroused little enthusiasm since voices on discs and cylinders were distant, often drowned out by surface noise. Early opera recordings gave little satisfaction.
Caruso helped make the gramophone respected because his voice was superb but also recorded well. Before 1902, celebrities hesitated making records since the final product was crude. Some celebrities did make recordings in 1902 (they include Plançon, Van Rooy, Calvé, Scotti, Bispham, and Renaud)--partly to earn large fees for little work, partly to satisfy curiosity about how they sound. But Caruso’s success inspired many others.
With the first Caruso discs available in the summer of 1902, the gramophone was clearly more than a toy--that is one way to view Caruso’s contribution to the infant industry. Lovers of great singing realized that recording devices could capture and preserve great singing. Caruso’s voice on his early discs came across clearly enough to be satisfying, Caruso’s interpretations compelling.
Caruso had other Milan sessions. The next one (again for the Gramophone & Typewriter Company) was on November 30, 1902, with some titles recorded a day or two later (in December 1902).
I once assumed that Will Gaisberg (Fred’s brother--Fred himself was touring, making records in exotic locations) produced all the Milan recordings of the November-December sessions, but I read that B.G. Royal recorded four of the recordings, and these have "-R" embossed next to the matrix numbers, indicating that Royal was the producer.
On April 19,1903, Caruso made seven recordings in Milan for the Anglo-Italian Commerce Company (released as Pathe discs, Pathe cylinders, and Zonophone discs).
In late October 1903, three more titles were recorded in Milan. There were issued by Pathe on both cylinder and disc--and on Zonophone discs.
Next, Caruso cut two titles for the Gramophone & Typewriter Company--the last Milan session.
Thereafter Caruso recorded only for the Victor Talking Machine Company.
Caruso’s records helped make him a star in opera houses, and Caruso’s success in opera houses helped record sales. Victor Talking Machine Company discs brought wealth and fame to the artist, and Caruso’s name brought prestige to the Victor Talking Machine Company.
On September 16, 1920, the ailing tenor visited a recording studio for the last time (at Trinity Church at Camden, New Jersey).
At the Brooklyn Academy of Music on December 11, 1920, the tenor suffered a throat hemorrhage. The curtain did not come up after Act I on that sad day, but Caruso did not retire. He would give three more Met performances under great strain and discomfort.
In 1921 he was diagnosed with purulent pleurisy and empyema.
Enrico Caruso "Qui sotto il ciel" Gli Ugonotti (Meyerbeer) 1903 Anglo American Commerce Co.