National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Ann M. Shumard in memory of her grandmother, Anna Reeves Hamilton
Enrico Caruso: European\Italian
Andrés de Segurola: European\Spanish
In the early part of the twentieth century, tenor Enrico Caruso (standing at right) was the most acclaimed singer in the world. He made his American debut in Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in November 1903, and soon after signed a contract to record exclusively for the Victor Company and its affiliates. As Caruso's phenomenal appeal fueled the demand for his recordings and for the machines that could play them, phonographs made the rapid transition from novelty item to household fixture. In 1914 Caruso joined the singers pictured here-Frieda Hempel, Maria Duchêne, Guilio Setti, Léon Rothier, and Andrés de Segurola-to perform a selection from Verdi's Un ballo in maschera for a recording issued in 1915. Although this image may have been used to publicize that record, it was more likely intended to promote the sale of Victrola phonographs such as the model pictured here.