April 5, 1920:
Some 6,000 people filled the 13th Regiment Armory in Scranton on a cold Easter Monday to listen to one of the greatest voices in opera — Enrico Caruso.
Caruso wowed the crowd with numbers from “Pagliacci,” “L’elisir d’amore” and “La Boheme.” Soprano Nina Morgana, violinist Elias Breeskin and accompanist Salvatora Fuciti performed alongside him.
Keystone Concert Course organized the concert, whose tickets cost $2 to $5. Caruso’s fee for the performance in Scranton was $10,000. Adjusting for inflation, that amounts to about $131,308 in today’s money.
Following the concert, Caruso was the guest of honor at a dinner party at the Hotel Casey arranged by prominent Italian-Americans in Scranton. Those attending included his fellow performers; F.C. Coppicus, Caruso’s manager; Mr. and Mrs. Dominick Cicotti; Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Calabrese; Santo Volpe; Stephen Latorre; Joseph Notarianni; and Mr. and Mrs. A. Obici.
Days later, the president of the Italian Charity Association, G. Vilone, announced that he received a donation of $100 from Caruso. The singer made the donation after he learned about the group’s work in Scranton and decided to help.
Caruso died Aug. 2, 1921, in Naples, Italy, at 48. The cause of death was peritonitis caused by a burst subphrenic abscess, but Caruso’s health had been poor since he suffered a throat hemorrhage during a performance in December 1920 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 14 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He once won a chili cook-off with a kielbasa and three pepper chili, and he competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast