“I was called by the King to his box,” an intimate 15-page letter from Enrico Caruso on his celebrated performance for Edward VII, “all the English newspapers have written a great deal about the concert, my voice and the reception by the King”
Superb ALS in Italian from legendary tenor Enrico Caruso, 15 total pages, 6.5 x 10, June 2, 1908. Addressed from London, a lengthy handwritten letter to his friend, Marziale Sisca, the founder and publisher of the Italian‐language journal La Follia di New York, in full (translated): “I have not written before because I have had neither the strength nor the time. I now take advantage of a little calm and answer also your affectionate letter that I received this morning. Thank you, dear friend.
It is useless to describe my sorrow upon receiving the tragic news. As soon as Father Tonello said my dear father's name, in a flash, I knew that he had died; also because I never could have hoped he would recover and any news I was to receive would have been of a worsening of his condition, as he was in a very bad way. I guessed he was dead and so it was. Poor old one! Dying without having his children around him! It is said that God is just; then why not wait a day or two? No Sir! It seems that some great sin I must carry on my shoulders and for this I must be punished by never seeing my father again!
So it was with my mother! I cried, but I had to take hold of myself because of the obligation to think of those who remain as their condition is not florid and because a sister is feebleminded and a brother nearly imbecilic.
As quickly as I can I will go to Naples and try to settle everything for all.
I had believed, after all my work, to arrive here and rest completely. No Sir, beside the material work, they all jumped on me to give certain concerts which I could not at least, not accept.
These concerts will take place in July and I beg you not to mention this to anyone. There is a moral reason that makes me see clearly my position before the law and the whole world.
It is a long affair that you will hear about before I return to America, as all the newspapers will be talking about it. [This “long affair” is in reference to the departure of his partner, the Italian soprano Ada Giachetti, who, in the summer of 1908, left Caruso and their two children for the family’s chauffeur; the sudden breakup was never reconciled between the two, and, as Caruso points out, the event made a bit of a stir given their celebrity]
My head seems to be floating in air and frankly many and many a time I prefer to return to the humble workman I was, because only at that time did I have a home in which to rest, and a plate of soup I ate with appetite, and an affectionate family life, that ran smoothly without the tortures celebrity offers.
Today I have a home, or rather I should say a mansion, where I could live tranquilly amid the affection of my small family — no Sir — It cannot be, because I live with a woman who is not legally mine. Tomorrow should I die, my children would not be the heirs of this place or of anything of mine, because they were born outside the law and all that I have earned by my work would end up in the hands of people who, when I was in need, refused me even a dish of soup to satisfy my hunger! This is what I found here, besides the news of my father's death and not the rest I was expecting to find for my weary bones.
It is incredible! It is terrible! I feel as one going mad; one who, unless a remedy is quickly found, will become very, very ill. ‘To big evils, big remedies!’ It is to regulate all these family affairs, that at the moment they will be enacted, a bomb will explode all over the world, and all will crucify me and call me a renegade, because I will cease to be an Italian citizen and assume another nationality. But only in this way I can dispose, as I wish, of the little that I have accumulated in the many years of work, and thus assure a future for my children who otherwise would end up having nothing. Does it not seem to you that one could go insane over all this? Let us hope that I come through all this healthy and victorious.
Here are some details of the concert of May 30th. Enormous success. I was called by the King to his box and he expressed to me his condolences and sympathy for the loss of my father. From the King and others I received many thanks for having given the concert and appreciation for my performance in this time of sorrow. They also expressed their disappointment at my not performing at Covent Garden this season and hoped that I will return soon. All the English newspapers have written a great deal about the concert, my voice and the reception by the King. They also expressed great sympathy for the loss of my father. [Caruso's only 1908 appearance in London was at a charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall on May 30th, alongside Melba, Tosti, and McCormack]
By the way, in regards to my voice, I am sending an article for you to read, this was written by a gentleman who did not get fifty dollars as do those in New York.
After all I have written, can you imagine in what a state I am? Please save for me the articles for when I return to New York. I had intended to write a letter to your father for the beautiful poem he wrote and was published in La Follia but the tragic event took away from me the desire to write to anyone. I beg you to thank him for the poem and for the condolences; also I want to thank you and your family for the kind expression of sympathy.
I am leaving for Paris, where I will sing on the 11th and on the 12th; then I go down to Italy to regulate all and everything. I embrace you sincerely to my heart and believe me.” Housed in a handsome custom leather-bound folio with gilt lettering to the front cover; the consignor notes that the letter was encapsulated and bound at the Eisenhower library at Johns Hopkins University. In very good to fine condition, with a few small stains, and splitting to the intersecting folds.
Accompanied by the original hand-addressed mailing envelope and a 1989 provenance letter from Sisca’s son Michael: “Knowing that you are a Caruso lover, I am very glad that you could have the very precious letter which Enrico Caruso, who was my father’s best friend, wrote to my father on June 2, 1908, while his stay in London and performed for King George of England. Caruso tells in this letter of receiving a letter from Father Tonello of his father’s death and of the impending scandal of the news of Ada Giachetti leaving him for his chauffeur.”