Caruso sings the aria "Quando nascesti tu" from the opera Lo schiavo (The Slave) by the Brazilian composer Carlos Gomes.
The Italian libretto is by Alfredo Taunay and Rodolfo Paravicini.
The opera was first performed at the Teatro Imperial Dom Pedro II, Rio de Janeiro on September 27, 1889.
The opera deals with the subject of slavery, a major concern in Brazil at the time.
Caruso recorded this on November 19, 1911.
Caruso lived from February 25, 1873, to August 2, 1921.
He was born in Naples, and at the end of his life he returned to Naples, hoping to recover from illness but instead dying there. He did not live in Naples during his adult life. Caruso purchased the Villa Bellosguardo, a palatial country house near Florence, in 1904. Caruso's real home during his years of greatest fame was a suite at Manhattan's Knickerbocker Hotel.
The tenor made more than 260 recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company. A sensation in opera houses and on concert stages, he is still famous because his records were incredibly popular during his own life and remained popular long after the tenor's death. Many singers of the twentieth century said they learned much while listening to Caruso's voice.
He was loved as the lead tenor in "warhorse" works--that is, in operas that stand the test of time, being produced often. But he also took risks, gambling on newly created roles (with no guarantee that the new opera would succeed) and also helping revive forgotten operas. He excelled in Italian and French role. His voice was not suited for Mozart or Wagner.
He created interesting roles--that is, he was first to sing those roles in new operas. On December 10, 1910, Caruso created the role of Dick Johnson in the world premiere of La fanciulla del West. Puccini, the composer, wrote with Caruso's voice specifically in mind.
Earlier, Caruso created the role of Loris in Umberto Giordano's Fedora, at the Teatro Lirico, Milan, on November 17, 1898. At that same theater, on November 6, 1902, he created the role of Maurizio in Francesco Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur.
In March 1902, he created the main tenor part in Germania by Alberto Franchetti.
A month later, 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--a superb one--recorded well. Before 1902, recording officials had difficulty convincing celebrities to make 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, pianist unknown. These were released on the Zonophone label.
In late October 1903, three more titles were recorded in Milan. There were issued by Pathe on both cylinder and disc.
Next, Caruso cut two titles for the Gramophone & Typewriter Company--the last Milan session.
Thereafter Caruso recorded only for the Victor Talking Machine Company.