Enrico Caruso in Cuba


Eighty-nine years after world famous tenor Enrico Caruso visited Cuba, the Vanguardia newspaper in Santa Clara, Cuba, evokes his historic performance in the city—part of a series of concerts Caruso (then at the height of his career) agreed to do on the island. Caruso (1873-1921) performed in Santa Clara on June 17, 1920, as a member of Adolfo Bracale’s Italian Opera Company at the invitation of the local business, Rosell y Cía.

Caruso had arrived in Cuba in May 15 on the Steamship Miami. His stay in Cuba was not pleasant. He suffered from the intense heat and was already feeling the early symptoms of the disease that would kill him a year later at age 48. On June 13, just days before his Santa Clara performance, he was singing Verdi’s Aida  at the National Theater when a bomb exploded, forcing the singer into the streets in full Radames costume. Wearing a skirt and heavily made up, he was arrested for public indecency and had to be rescued from the police by the Italian ambassador. The anecdote has been explored in literature by Alejo Carpentier (who retold it in his novel El recurso del método and by Mayra Montero, who dedicates her novel Como un mensajero tuyo (The Messenger) to narrate fictional events centered on the explosion.

For his performance at the Caridad Theater in Santa there was such a crowd that most people could not purchase tickets. Caruso requested that the theater doors be left open since he wanted “to sing for all.” Popular mythology insists that he could be clearly heard from a nearby park.  Cubans’ favorite anecdote about Caruso’s visit tells of how he sang “La donna é mobile” at a Cuban cigar factory at the request of the cigar workers. His delighted audience showered him with Romeo y Julieta cigars as a tribute.

For the full article (in Spanish) go to http://vanguardia.co.cu/index.php?tpl=design/secciones/lectura/portada.tpl.html&newsid_obj_id=17586

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