The idea for the Enrico Caruso Museum began when Everisto Mancusi came to America from Italy in 1920 and settled in Brooklyn, New York. He had a great love for music, and owned a collection of Enrico Caruso Victor records numbering more than seventy. As his love for Italian opera grew so did his collection – to more than two hundred records. His son, Aldo Mancusi, whose love and admiration of Caruso grew as a result of his father’s collection, acquired these records.
The title Cavaliere Ufficiale was an honor given to Aldo Mancusi for the creation of the Museum. Active in the Italian community for many years, he has devoted his most of his time and energy to establishing and promoting the museum in honor of the world’s greatest tenor. In 1990, the museum was officially opened to the public with the support of Commendatore Michael Sisca, a prominent publisher of the Italian magazine La Follia Di New York.
Thousands of people have enjoyed visiting the museum to see the memorabilia including rare family photos of the Caruso family, books, records, letters, personal items, caricatures and the death mask of Enrico Caruso. A popular attraction in the museum is the 20 seat mini theater, with chairs and décor from the old Metropolitan Opera donated by famed soprano Licia Albanese. Additionally, Enrico Aloi and Joseph Puglisi, friends and biographers of the great soprano Rosa Ponselle contributed wood carvings from the balcony of the old Met.
There are also films of Caruso’s life and times including his silent film My Cousin where he plays a dual role. These items were obtained through donations as well as purchases for display by the museum. Caruso family members, have also visited the museum, a prestigious honor for the Enrico Caruso Museum of America.
The private collection and space of Cav. Uff. Aldo Mancusi was donated to create the Enrico Caruso Museum of America. The museum is also registered since 1995 with the New York State Education Department.