Over 100 free recordings of one of the greatest tenors of all time.

Published July 25, 2005 6:15PM (EDT)

One of's great treasures is a collection (Part 1 and Part 2) of nearly 150 recordings by the great tenor Enrico Caruso, all of them in the public domain and available as free MP3s. Caruso, who died in 1921, was one of the most popular recording artists of his time, but in contrast to today's opera-singer-as-pop-star Andrea Bocelli's mild and honeyed tone, Caruso had a big foghorn of a voice, rich and darkly resonant. That voice is so famous that it has almost become its own clichi, an unattainable ideal of the over-emotive, seductively smooth tenor. For me, Caruso's voice immediately calls to mind the famous scene from Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" (Klaus Kinski maneuvering a grand old steamboat down a river in the middle of the jungle, a gramophone on the top deck blasting a Caruso aria), an image so memorable and romantic that it only heightens the pleasure of these songs. (I believe the song playing in that scene was Leoncavallo's "Vesti la Giubba.")

By Salon Staff

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