Enrico Caruso (1873 – 1921) a great Italian tenor is credited with one particular quote that I have not been able to authenticate thus far. In fact, I could not even locate an Italian version, but it is, of course, possible, that Caruso said this in English. Supposedly, after the singer had witnessed the devastation of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, he vowed never to return to a place “where disorders like that are permitted.” Somehow the phrase sounds too much in the style of early 20th century U.S. newspapers.

At the very least, I would like to find this quote in Italian, even if its authenticity is doubtful. Here is, by the way, an illustration of what could have caused Caruso to make such a stern pronouncement.

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Leonardo Vinci (1690-1730), not to be confused with Leonardo da Vinci, was an Italian composer, known primarily for his operas, such as Li zite ‘ngalera, La festa di Bacco and others. Frederick Crowest in his ‘Musicians’ wit, humor & anecdote‘ relates a rumor of Leonardo’s death.

Unreal and overstrained as many of the situations and incidents in Italian operas may often seem to us Northerners, we must not forget that they appear very different to Italian eyes. Tragic incidents which we should term melodramatic occur again and again in the daily life of Southern people, and the fiery passion which appears to us so stagey and exaggerated, is really seldom overdrawn. Leonardo Vinci was at Rome, in the height of his musical success, when he made the acquaintance of a distinguished and beautiful Italian lady, who returned his passion. Unfortunately, he took to boasting about the lady’s favors. Upon hearing of this, she revenged herself by presenting him with a cup of poisoned chocolate, which he drank and died.

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