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Enrico Caruso: The Birth of a Recreation


In 1903, Enrico Caruso recorded a small set of commercial recordings on phonograph cylinder, taken by the Anglo-Italian Commerce Company in Milan, Italy. This was just before he signed an exclusive contract with the Victor Company and these recordings were the only ever issued Enrico Caruso recordings on phonograph cylinder in his lifetime. In that very same year, the French Pathé Company took over the AICC and by that also obtained Caruso's cylinder masters which were released on Pathé's two different cylinder formats (standard and intermediate) and on vertical cut discs. Three titles are known by today to have been issued.

Because of the decision by Pathé to discontinue their cylinder manufacture in 1906, all of the Enrico Caruso cylinder records were only available for about three years and today represent one of the very rarest and most sought-after cylinders ever made. The fragile wax composition makes it even more difficult to ever find one of these cylinders in still playable condition.

These reasons gave the initial idea of reproducing one of the most desireable titles. The current availability lead us to the aria from Tosca "E lucevan le stelle" (and the stars were shining) in which Caruso perfectly shows his unique voice abilities.

The original cylinder was first electrically played with the modern stand-alone PHR playback system, formerly known as ePUCK, at precise tracking and accurate speed. No old phonograph with certain flaws was used in this process to achieve the best possible playback quality for creating the new master cylinder.
Then, the digitized content was carefully filtered to remove the very last remaining clicks. This very time consuming method took several hours to be applied just to this 2-minute selection.

Now, the design of a proper box label had to be made. It should be something unique to represent the specialty of this selection. Like the hand-made selection by Caruso, one of his nicest drawings of himself was chosen to embellish the box label.

Then, the production of the new cylinder was started with the electric recording process of the new master cylinder from which the final cylinders are descending. The reproduction cylinder is not made from wax but a very tough plastic material which can be played over and over without the fear of wearing out the record.