Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #80

Enrico Caruso (1873 – 1921)

80 Enrico Caruso

Arguably the greatest opera singer who ever lived, Enrico Caruso had a tenor voice that rang from the rafters of the Metropolitan Opera for 18 years. Processed through Ellis Island in 1903, his is the classic immigrant story — a highly talented European artist seeking fame and fortune in America, making it big, and burning brighter than anyone could have imagined only to flicker out early. In enormous demand, he sang at concerts, charity events, and baseball parks, even serenading Times Square from his apartment balcony with the National Anthem on the day of the Armistice in 1918. But it could not last. Fond of cigarettes, food, and wine, but not fond of exercise, his health deteriorated. In 1920, at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Caruso suffered a throat hemorrhage and coughed up several handkerchiefs worth of blood. He was dead less than a year later at the age of 48.

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