Skip to main content

Collection of Enrico Caruso caricatures, photographs, and other material

Call Number: MSS 100

Scope and Contents

This collection documents aspects of Enrico Caruso’s professional life primarily through his own drawings, as well as photographs, correspondence, and various articles and promotional material. The caricature drawings by Caruso, which augment similar depictions that have been published in various books and articles, show the tenor in daily dress and in costume, both alone and with other performers. Some caricatures also feature other figures, such as composer Giuseppe Verdi. Photographs depict Caruso as Dick Johnson in Puccini’s La Faniculla del West, a role he created at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as Canio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, the Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto, and Des Grieux either in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut or Massenet’s Manon. The correspondence written by Caruso includes letters in Italian and French. Articles and promotional materials discuss various aspects of Caruso’s career. The collection also includes two desktop sculptures of Caruso, one of which he may have handcrafted.


  • 1903-1987
  • Majority of material found within 1906-1915


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


The collection is arranged in seven series: I. Caricatures. II. Clippings, promotional flyers, and articles. III. Commemorative booklets. IV. Correspondence by Enrico Caruso. V. Photographs. VI.Recordings of Enrico Caruso. VII. Desktop statues.


1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


This collection includes original caricatures drawn by tenor Enrico Caruso; portrait shots and photographs of Caruso in costume; handwritten correspondence by Caruso; two bronze busts of Caruso; and various articles and promotional materials on Caruso’s career activity.

Biographical Sketch of Enrico Caruso

Enrico Caruso, one of the most prominent and renowned tenors of the early 20th century, was born on 25 Februatry 1873 in Naples, Italy. As a child coming from a poor family, Caruso sang in his church choir, and in 1894 he began vocal studies with Gugliemo Vergine. After débuting in Mario Morelli’s L’Amico Francesco at the Teatro Nuovo, Naples, Caruso then studied with Vincenzo Lombardi until 1897.

Caruso’s first notable success was in May 1897 at Palermo in Poncielli’s La Gioconda. In Milan at the Teatro Lirico, he sang in the premières of Cilea’s L’Arlesiana (Federico, 1897) and Adriana Lecouvreur (Maurizio, 1902), as well as Giordano’s Fedora (Loris, 1898). In 1899 Caruso also sang in Fedora for his Buenos Aires début, and for his Rome début he sang in Mascagni’s Iris. During the 1900–1901 operatic season, Caruso performed the role of Rudolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème at La Scala, Milan, and Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore.

Caruso also sang in L’Elisir d’Amore at the Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, in 1901, but some amount of controversy over that appearance caused him never to sing there again. On 14 May 1902 Caruso made his Covent Garden début as the Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto; and continued to perform at Covent Garden from 1904 to 1907 and in 1913 and 1914. Caruso also performed in Spain, Germany, Austria, and France.

Caruso débuted at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City on 23 November 1903 as the Duke in Rigoletto. From that point on he performed at least thirty-eight other roles there and created the role of Dick Johnson in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West in 1910. Caruso’s most frequent appearances with that company were as Canio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Radames in Verdi’s Aïda, Rodolfo in La Bohème, and Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca.

Caruso returned to Italy in 1914 and 1915 for benefit performances of Pagliacci in both Milan. He also sang several times in Latin America (Havana, Mexico City, São Paulo) between 1917 and 1920. His last public appearance was in Halévy’s La Juive, at the Metropolitan Opera, on 24 December 1920. Caruso died in Naples, 2 Aug 1921, at the age of 48, of a lung or abdominal ailment. He made several recordings throughout his career, copies of which reside at the Yale Collection of Historical Sound Recordings.

Processing Information

Collection processed in 2014. Finding aid created in 2018.
Guide to the Collection of Enrico Caruso caricatures, photographs, and other material
written by Mark Bailey. Updated (2018) by Jonathan Manton
November 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
This project was supported by a Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Part of the Gilmore Music Library Repository

120 High Street
PO Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520 US
(203) 432-0497

Opening Hours