The April 18, 1906 SF earthquake through Caruso’s eyes

Berkeley, Sunday, April 19, 2020 9:20 PM

As one of those coincidence of learning something without looking for it, I have been listening some of Enrico Caruso’s songs during the last days, as in a discussion in a class last Tuesday, name of the documentary film Burden of Dreams came sporadically, and while I did not watched that film I watched some of the parts of what that film is about: the making of the film Fitzcarraldo (1982) by Werner Herzog. Well then I learned about more about Caruso, I will not comment on the Fitzcarraldo film here, but on Caruso, the Italian Opera singer (1873 – 1921)

It turns out that Caruso performed the Opera Plot Carmen, across the Bay, in the Mission Opera House in San Francisco, 2131 Mission Street in the night of April 17, 1906.

He stayed in the Palace Hotel.

On April 18, at 5:12 A.M. a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, of course, woke him up. While he survived the earthquake, not the structure of the former Mission Opera House. He and his valet were able to left on that day to Oakland and then to New York. I found interesting the description of what he saw, in the strongest, I think, earthquake in the San Francisco’s history.

He wrote a piece for the London based magazine, The Sketch, published on July 1, 1906, which the Museum of the City of San Francisco has made available in the following link. Check it out: http://www.sfmuseum.net/1906/ew19.html

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