Naples plans to open a museum to celebrate its native son Enrico Caruso, the lyric tenor whose rich voice and early recordings made him Italy’s first internationally famous modern media star.
The Museo Caruso, to be housed inside the Royal Palace of Naples (Palazzo Reale), is slated to open July 20, organisers said, coming 150 years after the birth of the artist whose name is synonomous with lyrical opera.
In announcing the museum opening at a press conference in Rome, Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano called Caruso the “first singer in the history of world music to understand and use the immense potential of the record industry.”
Besides singing at major opera houses around the world, including Milan’s La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Caruso made hundreds of recordings at the advent of the gramophone industry, making his voice recognisable across the world.
Museum curator Laura Valente said Caruso was not only acclaimed in the world’s most prestigious opera houses, but he was “the first thoroughbred of the recording industry to sell a million records,” making his voice one of music history’s most popular.
The museum will display a selection of costumes, playbills, photographs, and gramophones, while sharing recordings of Caruso to modern audiences.
Born into a poor Naples family on February 25, 1873, Caruso had a bittersweet relationship with his home city, where he received tepid reviews at the Teatro San Carlo in 1901. He vowed never again to sing there.
He died in 1921 at the age of 48.