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December 24: Caruso Sings “La Juive”

December 24, 2014
imageEnrico Caruso gave the final public performance of his career on this date in 1920, appearing as Eleazar the goldsmith in Jacques Halévy’s La Juive (The Jewess) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Halévy (1799-1861), born in Paris, was the son of Cantor Élie Halfon Halévy, who was the secretary of the Jewish community of Paris. La Juive, written in 1835, was Jacques Halévy’s first major triumph and became a cornerstone of French opera. It tells the story of an illegal love affair between a Christian man and a Jewish (by adoption) woman. Its most famous aria is Eléazar’s “Rachel, quand du Seigneur,” which you can hear Caruso sing by looking below. “I am absolutely overwhelmed by this wonderful, majestic work. I regard it as one of the greatest operas ever created.” —Gustav Mahler