Jump to content

100 years ago Caruso performs for the last time December 24, 1920 at the Met

Recommended Posts

While not much of a Christmas song, it is a wonderful recording of the main aria from Caruso's last performance at the Met December 24, 1920. 100 years ago today December 24, 2020.


Halévy: La Juive: “Rachel! Quand du Seigneur la grâce tutélaire” by Enrico Caruso 1920

DAHR: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/index.php/matrix/detail/700009675/C-24461-Rachel_Quand_du_Seigneur_la_grce_tutlaire



Link to post
Share on other sites

Outstanding, Dan! 


With your kind permission, your video has been posted on the APS Facebook Page and Facebook Group as one of the "On This Day in Phonographic History..." series.  Thanks again  - -


George P.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

40 years ago (yikes!), I was fascinated by this record.  As most of you know,  the marriage of Caruso's voice and the properties of the Victor Exhibition soundbox is a beautiful thing.  However, this one is exceptional: he practically leaps from the horn during the passages at 1:23 and 3:32.  Why is Caruso's voice so dramatic on this aria?


Back then, to understand better what was going on, I played the record on my humble Victrola VV-IX (Exhibition soundbox), recording it at low-volume so there was plenty of headroom for the loud passages.  This was at the end of the analog era (remember?) so I did this with my semi-pro 15 ips tape deck using a high-end mike.


At the time, I was working at MCA/Universal  and was friends with a guy at MCA Records.  He got me into their recording studio  (historic MCA Whitney) which had a spectral audio analyzer.  We threaded up the tape to see what these passages looked like.  The passages peaked almost 30 db above the rest of the aria!  To put this in perspective, the entire signal-to-noise (think resolution) of the tape deck was 60 db.  Basically if they had had volume controls back then, the incremental volume of these passages could have deafened you.


Almost all of the music we hear today is compressed - run through an audio meat grinder so the loud and soft passages are of nearly equal volume.  I've always hated that and often think back on that time at MCA when I learned what real musical dynamics look like.


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Very interesting John. His voice is so dramatic in the two passages you mentioned that it nearly sounds electrically recorded. What a wonderful sound he made. I have several copies of this record (don't ask why), but the one I chose is nearly mint and must have been played rarely.  It is amazing that it is now just over 100 years old!

Edited by melvind
Link to post
Share on other sites

..... and yet I like "pop" music much more. He is so plentiful it seems on record as to be considered common. LOL Give me a dance band that makes me move!!!! Neil

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...