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Mimmi’s Story

Wayne Koestenbaum, 11 May 1995

Enrico CarusoMy Father and My Family 
by Enrico Caruso and Andrew Farkas.
Amadeus, 724 pp., £29.99, May 1994, 0 931340 24 1
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... I have no special love for the voice of Enrico Caruso, perhaps because it does not need me to rescue it; classic, impervious, it awaits eternity – it has already arrived at eternity – and demands no fan, no patient posthumous acolyte, to alchemise it. The Caruso voice, as his son describes it, in Enrico Caruso: My Father and My Family, a story as pathetic, plodding and perverse as any I have read, is a pure column of air; without flaw, it assails low and high notes alike with plump machismo, sometimes sobbing, sometimes finishing off the breath with a punctuating snarl ...

Cooking it up

Rupert Christiansen, 19 January 1989

Maria: Callas Remembered 
by Nadia Stancioff.
Sidgwick, 264 pp., £13.95, April 1988, 0 283 99645 5
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Callas at Juilliard: The Master Classes 
by John Ardoin.
Robson, 300 pp., £16.95, April 1988, 0 86051 504 4
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Callas as they saw her 
edited by David Lowe.
Robson, 264 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 9780860514961
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The Great Caruso 
by Michael Scott.
Hamish Hamilton, 322 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 241 11954 5
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Chaliapin 
by Victor Borovsky.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 241 12254 6
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... which are gone.’ But what we do undeniably lack are figures of the legendary status embodied by Caruso, Chaliapin, and Callas, to whose hagiography the books under review here make dubious contributions. All three have attracted, both in their lifetimes and posthumously, a worldwide fame that can only be compared to that of their Hollywood counterparts. In ...

Say hello to Rodney

Peter Wollen: How art becomes kitsch, 17 February 2000

The Artificial Kingdom: A Treasury of the Kitsch Experience 
by Celeste Olalquiaga.
Bloomsbury, 321 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7475 4535 9
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... in which every room had been named after a supposed turn-of-the-century guest – Isadora Duncan, Enrico Caruso, Luisa Tetrazzini – and decorated in an appropriate style. She climbed laboriously up to a small ‘chamber’ – it was the Jack London room – in one of the mansion’s towers where, among a plethora of nautical bric-à-brac, she ...

Aviators and Movie Stars

Patricia Lockwood: Carson McCullers, 18 October 2017

Stories, Plays and Other Writings 
by Carson McCullers.
Library of America, 672 pp., £33.99, January 2017, 978 1 59853 511 2
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... with watches. Her mother, Marguerite, a more vivacious personality, had intended to name her baby Enrico Caruso and bragged to visitors that Carson cried in tune. Marguerite, in the traditional mould of stage mothers in places where stages are hard to come by, believed that her daughter was extraordinary in some unspecified way. She was so set on her ...

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