TALKING FILES: Caruso in Havana

With the visit of the tenor Enrico Caruso to Cuba, a notorious and surprising event occurs: over the years his worshipers will remember more the bombshell that sounded during one of his presentations than the preciousness of his histrionic recitals.

Of course: the pranksters had a field day with the italic tour. Every time the Cañonazo de las Nueve had a problem, they recommended shouting: Bring Caruso so he can give his chest on the Malecón!

TALKING FILES: Caruso in Havana
Nice cartoon of Caruso.

Considered one of the most famous lyrical artists of the last century, along with Mario Lanza and Luciano Pavarotti, the interpreter arrived in Cuba for the first and only time on May 5, 1920, when he was 47 years old, he was bad-tempered and drop. Along with him were the musical director Salvatore Bucito, his valet Mario Fantini, the baritone Ricardo Strachiar, the soprano María Barrientos, among others.

He traveled from New York on the ship Miami, at the request of the Adolfo Bracale Italian Opera Company, who, without much hesitation, agreed to pay him the exorbitant sum of 10,000 dollars for each of the 10 performances that he would offer to the enthusiastic Creole public. . Cuba was living through the time of the Fat Cows, due to the rise in sugar prices at the end of the First World War, and businessmen could afford these nonsense.

TALKING FILES: Caruso in Havana
Caruso upon his arrival in Havana.

The divo, staying at the worldly hotel Sevilla, a few meters from Paseo del Prado, and Old Havana, debuted with a luxury cast on the 12th at the National Theater, today the “Alicia Alonso” National Grand Theater, with the work Martha, by Friedrich von Flotow, which had to be postponed again and again, since the box with the scores, shipped in Florida, was mysteriously lost.

After being received by the most select of Havana society, he drove fans of the genre crazy, who packed even the henhouse of the Nacional with Elíxir de amor, by Gaetano Donizzeti; A Masquerade Ball, by Giuseppe Verdi; Tosca, by Giaccomo Puccini; and Clowns, by Ruggero Leoncavallo, among others.

TALKING FILES: Caruso in Havana
Conquering the Havana artistic world with a voice of thunder.

However, the most sensational event of this tour was yet to come.

When on June 13 the Neapolitan vocalist showed off a great show with Aída, by Giuseppe Verdi, one of his favorite pieces, a noisy firecracker exploded in the building’s bathrooms, causing several injuries and leaving all those attending the function stunned and scared. The next day, he wrote a letter to his wife where he narrated everything that had happened:

“At the beginning of the second act with the dialogue between Amneris and Aída, followed by the triumphant scene of Radamés, there was a terrible explosion. I was in the dressing room putting on my mantle when I felt thrown to the ground. I saw people running down the corridor with terrified expressions on their faces. Someone asked me to leave as soon as possible, because there would be more detonations”.

Alejo Carpentier revealed in a newspaper of the time what happened next and was later inspired by the event to write a memorable passage from his novel The method resource:

“Caruso, disguised as Radamés, gets a terrible fright, runs out of the back door of the Nacional in a panic and starts running at three in the afternoon down San Rafael Street. When he arrives two blocks further up, a policeman violently grabs him by the hand, and says:

-What’s this? Here we are not in carnivals to walk like this through the streets.

So he, who did not speak Spanish, tries to explain what happened.

But the policeman does not understand. He stares at him fixedly and blurts out:

-Hey! And on top of that disguised as a woman? To the police station!

According to the investigations carried out, the untimely detonation that occurred in the National Theater was caused by activists from the anarchist union, determined to extract economic improvements from the Galician Center Property Commission.

TALKING FILES: Caruso in Havana
Radamés was always his favorite character.

After this incident, the singer triumphed at the Tomás Terry theater in Cienfuegos and at La Caridad in Santa Clara, where he dazzled with the majestic staging and his brilliant clothing.

The great Caruso left on June 23 and never returned to Cuba, in fact, he died of lung cancer the following year in the city of Naples, where he never forgot the tremendous scare he had in Havana.

TALKING FILES: Caruso in Havana
Autographed photo by the divo.

By the way, according to Eduardo Robreño, the one who left the dynamite device on top of the National Theater was a young boy, a newspaper vendor on Prado and Neptuno, who was given 40 cents for such a feat!

Source link

Leave a Reply

Previous Story

Cubans block a migrant shelter in Mexico and demand the release of their compatriots

Next Story

What products does Latin America import from Russia?

Latest from Cuba

The Creole cookie

We start with the professionals, who deserve it. And I want to do it emphasizing that