Caruso believes in the necessity for work, and sends this message to all ambitious students: “To become a singer requires work, work, and again work! It need not be in any special corner of the earth; there is no one spot that will do more for you than other places. It doesn’t matter so much where you are, if you have intelligence and a good ear. Listen to yourself; your ear will tell you what kind of tones you are making. If you will only use your own intelligence you can correct your own faults.”
This is no idle speech, voiced to impress the reader. Caruso practices what he preaches, for he is an incessant worker. Two or three hours in the forenoon, and several more later in the day, whenever possible. He does not neglect daily vocal technic, scales and exercises. There are always many roles to keep in rehearsal with the accompanist. He has a repertoire of seventy roles, some of them learned in two languages. Among the parts he has prepared but has never sung are: Othello, Fra Diavolo, Eugen Onegin, Pique Dame, Falstaff and Jewels of the Madonna.
Besides the daily review of opera roles, Caruso examines many new songs; every day brings a generous supply. Naturally some of these find their way into the waste basket; some are preserved for reference, while the favored ones which are accepted must be studied for use in recital.
I had the privilege, recently, of spending a good part of one forenoon in Mr. Caruso’s private quarters at his New York Hotel, examining a whole book full of mementos of the Jubilee celebration of March, 1919, on the occasion when the great tenor completed twenty-five years of activity on the operatic stage. Here were gathered telegrams and cablegrams from all over the world. Many letters and cards of greeting and congratulation are preserved in this portly volume. Among them one noticed messages from Mme. Schumann-Heink, the Flonzaley Quartet, Cleofonte Campanini and hosts of others. Here, too, is preserved the Jubilee Programme booklet, also the libretto used on that gala occasion. Music lovers all over the world will echo the hope that this wonderful voice may be preserved for many years to come!
The above article was shown to Mr. Caruso, at his request, and I was asked a few days later to come to him. There had been the usual rehearsal at the Opera House that day. “Ah, those rehearsals,” exclaimed the secretary, stopping his typewriter for an instant; “no one who has never been through it has any idea of what a rehearsal means.” And he lifted hands and eyes expressively. “Mr. Caruso rose at eight, went to rehearsal at ten and did not finish till after three. He is now resting, but will see you in a moment.”