Re: The Day that Lanza Died

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Maria Luísa

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Oct 6, 2008, 12:11:52 PM10/6/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Here is not yet the 7th but since you Derek wisely remind us of the
day, I write a few lines in case I don't come here tomorrow. It is
simply horrible to think of the tragic way such a wonderful person and
exquisite tenor died. It is terrible just to imagine the suffering his
sensitive soul went through after what the Hollywood people did to him
almost from the very beginning of his too short professional life. It
almost makes you cry to think of the tremendous injustices made to him
by the critiques. It is awfully sad to think that a man who had
millions of people adoring both him as a good person and his
incomparable singing, did not have one single close member of his
family or a very dear friend at his bedside when he left this world.
If Mario had enough time, even one or two seconds, before he died to
perceive what was happening to him completely alone those few moments
must have been absolutely horrifying. It is of an immense sadness that
a tenor so young with a voice of such unbelievable dimension have
disappeared so incredibly soon. His was an irreparable loss.


On Oct 6, 12:08 pm, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> As it's already October 7th here in New Zealand, I thought I'd pay tribute
> to a great artist on this the 49th anniversary of his death by reopening
> this earlier thread.

Lou

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Oct 6, 2008, 10:42:31 PM10/6/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
I have no personal anecdote apropos of the day Mario Lanza died, but I
do wish to share some thoughts about Lanza in the last year of his
life, occasioned by James Kilbourne’s thought-provoking essay,
Visiting a Dying Friend: Mario Lanza Sings Caruso Favorites, in our
Essays & Reviews section.

“It is not the sadness of hearing the life slipping out of the
physical man that I find overwhelming,” writes Mr. Kilbourne. “It is
the tragedy of seeing a beautiful flower tiring of its search for
nutrients and sunlight in a fetid, foggy, chemical swamp. In this last
year of life, Mario Lanza had become a man who had been misunderstood,
ignored, and trivialized for so long that it was becoming impossible
for him to face this ignoble enemy of monstrous indifference to joy
and grandeur. In this album and in all that Lanza sang in his last
year of life, there is for me a heartbreaking echo to every golden
note. It is the sound of an injured lion making a desperate cry for
rest.”

Lanza a starving, wilting flower? Lanza an injured lion moaning in
weariness and despair? With all due respect to Mr. Kilbourne, I take
exception to these pathetic images of a loser. In the last year of his
life, Lanza was anything but!

Never mind that physically, he was a dead man walking. His indomitable
spirit was not about to give up, not when, as Armando writes in his
book, “offers and projects from all over the world continued to pour
in,” and definitely not when he was so close to recapturing his lost
dream of an operatic career.

Far from being a tiring, starving flower in a fetid swamp, Mario Lanza
on the last day of his life reminds me of Tennyson’s “flower in a
crannied wall,” a beautiful, plucky little bloom that had willed its
way to the light of day. Neither can I reconcile Lanza with the image
of a whining, limping lion. No way! In my eyes, he was a magnificent
specimen, roaring and poised to spring.

In the last morning of his life, recalls a still shaken Giancarlo
Stopponi in the BBC documentary, Lanza was singing in a voice so
powerful he could be heard four floors down. His swan song? I do not
think so. I’d bet my eye teeth it was his hymn to life. Long may he
live in our hearts!
> > this earlier thread.- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

Thelma

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Oct 6, 2008, 10:59:51 PM10/6/08
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Lou, that's a beautiful post, thanks.
I was waiting at the bus stop after visiting the dentist, and my mouth
was hurting! I had a little transitor radio and was listening to the
news when they broke in with the news that Mario Lanza had just died!
I started to cry there and the bus came just then. The driver asked
me what was wrong. I said Mario Lanza had just died! And I had the
toothache too! Everyone on the bus was talking about it then. It was
not unusual because at that time Mario Lanza was a BIG star and very
well known all over the world! It was so hard to believe that someone
with such a beautiful vital voice and future had been silenced
forever.
> > - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -

Muriel

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Oct 6, 2008, 11:02:50 PM10/6/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum

“And so it seems that we have met before, and laughed before, and
loved before, but who knows where or when?”

These lyrics appropriately describe my reaction upon hearing Mario’s
voice after years of not having his music in my life. Where was he and
how did I lose track of him? Thankfully, his films were on video and
CDs had begun to be available, making my reunion with Mario a joyous
happening. I “do” know where and when I heard and saw him. He was part
of my young life and, obviously made an enduring imprint on my very
being.

What amazed me was, my subconscious mind had never forgotten that
incredibly extraordinary voice. By the second word I was taken back in
time and the memories began to wash over me. Mario Lanza: a voice to
remember.

Derek remarked to me in an e-mail before I went to Spain, that the
anniversary of Mario’s death was coming up shortly after my return. I
recall thinking of the words that I would be reading on that day. Of
course, we all wish he had stayed with us longer, but why don’t we
rejoice instead and celebrate his vitality and energy? He will always
be with us, full of youth and charisma. His phenomenal talent will
never be forgotten as long as his music is played and we write down
how he touches us.

How will I remember the many facets of Mario on this day? I will not
try to cover all of his talents in one day, but will savor different
aspects of his genius over many days. Today I’ll watch and listen to
him as Otello singing, “Dio, mi potevi scagliar, tutti mali, della
miseria – della vergogna…”, and as Canio, singing, “Ridi, Pagliaccio,
sul tuo amore infranto!”. The following day I’ll hear a Neapolitan
sing, “Te voglio – te penzo – te chiammo – te veco – te sento – te
sonno…” (Passione), and “…comm’a chesta vucchella, che pare na
rusella, nu poco pocorillo appassuliatella….” (A Vucchella). On yet
another day Mario will give me inspiration from I’ll Walk With God,
and I’ll again watch and hear his Lord’s Prayer in Because You’re
Mine.

Day four will be devoted to musicals and operettas: the sumptuous
Serenade from The Student Prince, Love Me Tonight from The Vagabond
King (“Love me tonight, now while I long for you…), All The Things You
Are from Very Warm For May (“You are the angel glow that lights a
star…”), and The Donkey Serenade from The Firefly. How about a little
Caruso favorites on day five? “Chiudimi, O notte, nel tuo sen
materno…” is from L’Alba Separa Dalla Luce L’Ombra, and Ideale’s,
“”Torna, caro ideal, torna un istante a sorridermi ancora….” with the
haunting “Torna”s at the end is a true Italian feast.

I might want to spend two splendid days dedicated to magnificent love
songs. Mario recorded so many that it’s difficult to stop with a
few. How about, Begin The Beguine for starters: “Till the stars that
were there before, return above you…Till you whisper to me once more,
‘Darling, I love you’, and we suddenly know what heaven we’re in, when
they begin the Beguine.” I must include Love Is The Sweetest Thing:
“This is the tale that never will tire, this is the song without end…”
and My Romance: “Wide awake, I can make my most fantastic dreams come
true. My romance doesn’t need a thing but you.” Beautiful Love is a
treasure: “Reaching for Heaven, depending on you, beautiful love, will
my dreams come true?”.

So, you see, I have filled an entire week reveling in Mario’s music,
and I am more enchanted than ever. I’ll never tire of the tales he
sings to me. His is truly a voice to remember. Let me leave you with
this from I’ll Be Seeing You:

“I’ll be seeing you in every lovely summer’s day, in everything that’s
light and gay, I’ll always think of you that way. I’ll find you in the
morning sun and when the night is new, I’ll be looking at the moon,
but I’ll be seeing you.”

I’m celebrating.....


On Oct 6, 10:42 pm, Lou <louab...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -

Ann-Mai

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Oct 7, 2008, 7:12:37 AM10/7/08
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Another year has past. Time sure does fly quickly. It’s hard to
believe it has been 49 years since Mario past away. And here we are,
almost 5 decades later, thrilled as ever by that golden voice and
larger than life personality. Celebrating the memory of this great
artist sure is the right spirit. Not just today, but every day,
because this man’s unique ability to lift people’s spirits and enrich
their lives with the beauty and sincerity of his voice, is the
greatest gift anyone can give to the world.
> > - Show quoted text -- Skjul tekst i anførselstegn -
>
> - Vis tekst i anførselstegn -

gary from N.S.

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Oct 7, 2008, 7:43:02 PM10/7/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hello folks,
I have enjoyed so very much reading the preceding posts.It is amazing
how quickly the years have gone by,and little did I realize how
vividly the day 49 years ago I came home from school, and my Mom told
me of Mario's death. I simply could not believe her words.
It was one of those rare happenings in life that is never forgotten.
Hearing of Mario's death I needed to hear his voice,and immediately
went into our living room,and took one of his albums out of the dust
cover.I don't recall which song I wanted to hear first,but as I was
about to pull out the "drawer" which housed the old RCA turntable,the
record (a Red Label) just flew from my grasp,and hit the wall and
broke. I was doubly shattered at this moment..
Now I proceed to Oct. 4th. 1977, and as a young police officer I was
wounded by a gun shot.The bullet entered behind my left ear,passed
through my lower skull,and exited just below my right sideburn.
There is much more to this story, but to stay with remembering Mario
today, I will say that within scant minutes of being shot, I made a
safe escape,and soon help was on its way. I lay on my right side, on
Airport Road,just minutes away from the Toronto International Airport.
I believed I was going to die,and these thoughts were going on..I
thought of my dear wife and our three young daughters,and prayed to
see them one more time.I thought of how much I wanted to live,and I
thought ,well if I must die, I will get to see both Mario and
Elvis,and also I will hear them sing again. I have written this story
before, but thought I would share again tonight since these two dates
in October are of such importance in my life.

For over fifty years I have adored the sound of Mario's voice,and his
music has been inter-woven, in my own personal tapestry of life, all
these years;at good times,and at sad times.

Cheers to Mario fans everywhere.
Gary
Message has been deleted

Derek McGovern

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Oct 7, 2008, 8:10:42 PM10/7/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
What wonderful posts have appeared here during the last 24 hours! I'm
proud to be associated with such beautiful minds, and a special
"Welcome back" to "gypsy" Muriel, who has recently returned from
travelling all over Spain. (Muriella: The forum just wasn't the same
without your inimitable posts!) And thank you, Gary, for your moving
account of your own October brush with death. Incredible stuff.

Just following on from Lou's poetic comments above: yes, I agree that
Lanza remained an "indomitable spirit" right up until the end.
Uncannily prophetic though some of the lyrics in his final recordings
are (especially those of Ideale and One Alone), I don't believe that
the man knew he was going to die. Indeed, as Lou wrote to me about the
1959 Serenata -- having just heard it for the first time (on the
beautifully reproduced Encore set) -- Mario sounds as though
he could go on singing for decades here. The sheer robustness of his
voice in June 1959 -- barely four months before his death -- is
astounding on that recording, as is the man's level of risk-taking.
He's quite fearless, as he soars to five high As and even a B;
definitely not a song for the faint-hearted!

In fact, listening to much of the Caruso Favorites disc, it's almost
as if Lanza was determined to make up for the disappointment of his
depressing Christmas Carol album of the previous month by showing that
he was still a singer to be reckoned with, both vocally and
artistically. (And he may have indeed wanted to make amends for that
previous album, which he surely would have recognized as his worst
since the Lanza on Broadway LP of three years earlier.) The very fact
that he agreed to record the Caruso Favorites album -- knowing full
well the degree of scrutiny that his singing would inevitably invite
from fellow Caruso aficionados -- underscores the confidence that he
still had in his vocal abilities.

And, as Lou points out, Mario was full of plans to the very end. I've
always treasured these comments that he made in a 1959 newspaper
interview:

"I feel like going on forever and forever. I never want to quit. Now I
know what I want: I want to live! I want to take my voice all over the
world -- the Middle East, Far East -- even Russia. I want to put opera
on film for theaters and schools or hospitals -- for anyone who wants
to see it. I'd like to create a foundation for that purpose. I know
what they will say: 'He's crazy.' So what's new? If you don't believe
in opera, Mister, you don't believe in anything."

Hardly the words of "an injured lion making a desperate cry for rest"!

Lou

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Oct 7, 2008, 9:54:27 PM10/7/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
On Oct 7, 5:10 pm, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> And, as Lou points out, Mario was full of plans to the very end. I've
> always treasured these comments that he made in a 1959 newspaper
> interview:

> "I feel like going on forever and forever. I never want to quit. Now I
> know what I want: I want to live! I want to take my voice all over the
> world -- the Middle East, Far East -- even Russia. I want to put opera
> on film for theaters and schools or hospitals -- for anyone who wants
> to see it. I'd like to create a foundation for that purpose. I know
> what they will say: 'He's crazy.' So what's new? If you don't believe
> in opera, Mister, you don't believe in anything."

Thanks for posting these comments of Mario's, Derek. This was exactly
the Mario I had in mind when I wrote my post.

Becki

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Oct 8, 2008, 12:26:24 AM10/8/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
First I want to pay tribute to dear Mario. I am so thankful to know
him and his music. So many people in my age group and younger 40 and
younger do not know who Mario Laza is! My grandmother introduced me to
Mario back in 1991. We watched The Great Caruso. I will never forget
that night. Then when I went over the next friday night which was our
movie night she said, "so do you want to watch Mario again?" She knew
I was so taken by him! I never knew the whole story behind Mario's
death until recently. So today I listen to my Mario CDs and remembered
both Mario and my grandmother who passed away in 1993.

As we speak of what was going on with Mario at the time of his death
and the release of For the First Time I have to tell you that last
Saturday I watched For the First Time, for my very first time! :) I
find it odd that it is so close to the anniversary date to watch this
movie. I really enjoyed the movie. I thought Mario was so very
handsome when he sang Come Prima. Mario as Canio was so excellent
beyond words! I thought I should pass out! :) Pinapple Pickers could
have been ommited. Some emotion could have been a little more dramatic
but to see Mario is just a treat. I felt so sad after the movie ended
because I realised this week he died and it was his last song on film.
We are so fortunate to have what we do have of Mario. No matter how
many times I listen to the same songs over and over again I hear it in
a different way. He had that gift of expression that was so
encompassing of the emotions in a song it is like a kaleidoscope of
color.

If you want to put a virtual flower for Mario here is where you can do
it: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=603

PS I do not care for the biography of Mario maybe Derek should rewrite
it ;) Good idea!

I am so happy to found a nice group of Mario friends!

Have a nice night everyone.
Mario RIP!
Becki




Becki

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Oct 8, 2008, 12:27:50 AM10/8/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Please excuse my terrible spelling I am tired. Take care!

Aline staires

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Oct 8, 2008, 7:44:10 PM10/8/08
to mario...@googlegroups.com
To All; As I don't want to screw everything up as I usually do by starting another thread (Which is something I've never understood...threads to me mean sewing!) I am tagging along with Becki.
I'm an emotional wreck at the moment as I have just watched "Singing to the Gods" which Muriel so kindly sent me before she took off to Spain. I had tried it on all my cd players but it only works on my DVD player. Remember the problems we had with it when you were here, Muriel? I can play the Hollywood  Bowl cd on any of my cd players but for some reason the "Gods" one will only play on the DVD.....but at least it plays. It's one I don't think I will be watching too often as it reduces me to tears and by the end I'm a mess.
Isn't it amazing the amount of emotion Mario can produce in so many after being gone for half a century? I find as I get older, words do not come to me as easily as they once did and I cannot write as eloquently as I once did. It's very frustrating as there is much I would like to say but to me it comes out as so much drivel. So I will leave the essays to Derek and Muriel and sit back and read and enjoy. I love you both and perhaps some day I'll sip a glass of wine with Derek as I did with Muriel. Incidentally , it was grand seeing and hearing Armondo again in the DVD.....it brought back fond memories of our time in Philly. That was so much fun!!! 
Aline
 
 
-------Original Message-------

Muriel

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Oct 17, 2008, 9:46:37 AM10/17/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Derek, and I don't think I properly thanked you for your kind
welcome back to me...but I appreciate that very much.

I had wanted to comment on the remarks others made about Mario's
"indomitable spirit" up until the end of his life. His last recordings
were a mixed bag because of his unselttled health, but there were many
times when he showed that his voice had not failed him. I wrote about
his Serenata from the Caruso Favorites album and I wanted to use this
as an illustration. I'll repeat them here:

"Each time I listen to Mario’s recording of Serenata, I have the same
reaction: I cry. Of all the Caruso Favs, I am more aware of the
raspiness in his voice, and yet, here he gives one of the most heroic
performances of his life. He takes on this difficult piece of music
and breathes his life into it. Played in a waltz tempo (3/4 time?), he
cannot back down one second or all is lost.

As I listen I get the feeling that singing Serenata is a test of
Mario’s endurance and he doesn’t falter at all. I’ve played it over
many times today trying to find a weak spot. I’ve found none. There
are quite a few (at least seven) places where he has to go up to a
high note rather quickly and he hits them all solidly. This is a true
test of his vocal strength and breath control. I still hear lyrical
qualities that we all love so well, although not as bright as they
were in his youth. As he begins his crescendo on, “Svegliati amore,
dammi col tuo sorriso,” (“Awaken yourself love, give me your smile”) I
am silently cheering for him and my excitement grows, knowing the best
is yet to come! He continues, “…nella notte serena,” and becomes
fearless and soars, “l’ebbrezza dell’ amore (takes a breath) ah!” This
“ah” is held and blends into the following, “Ah! fulgete o stelle,
(takes a breath) il mio bene e svegliato (breath) e all’ amor mio,
e(ha)all’ amor mio, (breath) e ritorna(ha)to!” (“..in the serene
night, the intoxication of love, ah! Ah, disperse, oh stars my
happiness has awoken and, to my love, it has returned!”) What
exquisite phrasing! Mario has kicked his energy up a notch at the very
time we expect him to show fatigue. This, indeed, is heroism to me. I
can only imagine what this song would have sounded like if he had
recorded it, even a year earlier.

A nice touch is the final punctuation by the orchestra. It almost
sounds to me as if they are putting their approval stamp on a job well
done! My sentiments exactly…"

Listen to this song again and you'll know that Mario did, indeed, want
to go on singing forever.

Ciao, "Gypsy" Muriella

Muriel

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Oct 17, 2008, 10:04:51 AM10/17/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Gary: I had read your tragic story before, and I'm glad yours had a
happy ending. What a coincidence that it occurred so close to the date
of Mario's death. The two events are forever linked, to be sure.

It is interesting that you thought of Mario (and Elvis) in your
extremely comprimised state. I'm amazed, actually. I've suffered some
severe asthma attacks in my adult life when my brain slowed down
considerably and I could barely think at all - only concentrated on
that next breath. You must have felt something special during that
time. As much as I love Mario, I didn't think of him - but now that
idea is planted in my being....

Ciao, Muriel
> ...
>
> read more »- Hide quoted text -

Muriel

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Oct 17, 2008, 10:11:29 AM10/17/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Excuse me - I meant to write "compromised" - whoops! My brain must
need more oxygen this morning!!!...M

gary from N.S.

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Oct 17, 2008, 10:35:43 AM10/17/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Muriel,

I am glad you read the story.It is very easy to recall the two dates
as they were so close,and not only that the day of the shooting was
the day after my 13th. wedding anniversary.

Just to recap; these thoughts were definitely a fact,and finding
myself not knowing if I was to live or die at the time, I myself even
wonder about the same.It seemed on reflection, there was a myriad of
thoughts at the time, mainly of course concerning my immediate loved
ones,and then regarding Mario and Elvis.I don't know the answer other
than both these larger than life figures,had an amazing influence on
my life.
I have never actually spoken with persons who had a similar
experience,and I have no idea what their "thoughts at the time might
have been". The truth of the matter is, I barely ever speak of my
happening,but obviously the topic was raised here,and in addition
around these October dates, I always have personal reflections.
I wish I had a better answer for you.

ps. Just recently on shift I treated a severe asthmatic,and I know
very well the frightening extent of an asthmatic attack.Keep you
ventolin,and salbutamol close by Muriel..hugs to you.

Cheers
Gary
> ...
>
> read more »

Muriel

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Oct 17, 2008, 11:24:34 AM10/17/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Gary: Oh, and your wedding anniversary too??? Years ago,I seem to
recall reading Bob Davies' account about the month of October's
misgivings in his life, but it was redeemed in his memory by the birth
of his two sons. It can hold joyous memories as well.

Perhaps it was Mario's very evident sense of life that spoke to you at
that time. I know I am fillled with awe over and over as I hear it in
his musical presentations. Very often, I am comforted by it, even by
his Neapolitan songs of lost or missing love. Hearing the sheer
beauty of his eloquent voice is a powerful thing. It can lift me up
and send me to a place where nothing else matters, and I return,
renewed in spirit. Of course, this idea is nothing new to our members
here, eh?

Buon giorno!! Muriel

(PS: Don't worry, I never go out without my inhalers, or epi-pen.
People may not be aware that asthma is something that cannot be cured,
only kept under control with medication and/or shots. Thank you for
being able to help those in need.)



On Oct 17, 10:35 am, "gary from N.S." <gmaid...@ns.sympatico.ca>
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Derek McGovern

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Oct 6, 2010, 7:22:02 PM10/6/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Here's a reprise of Armando's post from a few years back about his
2002 interview with Giancarlo Stopponi, who was at the Valle Giulia
clinic in Rome on the day that Lanza died:

In 1959 his father was the clinic's director, and Stopponi, who was 17
years old, was working there doing odd-jobs in order to pay for the
evening classes he was attending.

He was particularly keen to do anything that Mario asked him, not only
because he was genuinely fond of him, but also because of the
exorbitant tips that he knew he would get. So off he'd go on his bike
and bring back Mario's favourite ice cream (some concoction containing
brandy) from Doney's, a bar in Via Veneto that Mario used to frequent.
He would also bring back Mario's favourite beer, Lowenbrau, which was
sold only at the Hungaria Bar.

Although Mario used to give him enough money for a taxi, young
Stopponi used to pocket it and ride his bike instead. Then, when he
delivered the goods, he would receive a hefty tip. On one occasion, he
arrived home, emptied the contents of his pockets, and to his mother's
amazement out come ten thousand liras, which, at the time, constituted
nearly half of his weekly earnings.

On the day Mario died, he heard him sing in the morning: "You could
hear his voice from the fourth floor right down to the ground floor of
the clinic. Then, suddenly, around midday, we heard a lot of movement,
a frenetic running up and down the stairs by the clinic's staff. We
knew that something terrible had happened."
Message has been deleted

Lou

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Oct 8, 2010, 5:16:36 AM10/8/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Derek: I've often wondered what Lanza was singing in that last
morning of his life. It must have been an aria, for only an aria
could spill out in a cascade of sound so powerful it could be heard
four floors below. Surely it couldn't be the magnificent, aria-like
L'Alba Separa. Though I like to think of it as Lanza's valedictory,
it
is the cri de coeur of a man craving immortality in the face of
death,
and death was the last thing on Lanza's mind during that period of
his
life. At least, that's what I believe based on Lanza's comment in a
1959 newspaper interview which you quoted elsewhere on this thread:

"I feel like going on forever and forever. I never want to quit. Now
I
know what I want: I want to live! I want to take my voice all over
the
world -- the Middle East, Far East -- even Russia. I want to put
opera
on film for theaters and schools or hospitals -- for anyone who wants
to see it. I'd like to create a foundation for that purpose. I know
what they will say: 'He's crazy.' So what's new? If you don't believe
in opera, Mister, you don't believe in anything."

In retrospect I find these words unbearably poignant, coming as they
did from Lanza when, unknowingly, he was already at death's door.

So what was Lanza singing in the last morning of his life? Chances
are
it was some lusty and lighthearted aria, such as La donna è mobile,
as
befitted a man brimming with self-discovery and optimism and dying
(no
pun intended) to share his tremendous gift and love of opera with the
world.

Derek McGovern

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Oct 8, 2010, 6:26:17 AM10/8/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Lou: I'd love to know as well! Actually, I wouldn't rule out it
being an Italian or Neapolitan song. I can just imagine Mario belting
out something like Musica Proibita or Canta Pe' Me!

Curiously enough, though, at least one of the British newspapers at
the time reported that Lanza had sung Come Prima (of all things) that
day. It was even claimed that he had died *while* singing it! But in
his first (1991) book -- and without identifying his source -- Derek
Mannering asserts that Mario had performed Come Prima the *night*
before he died.

Armando, on the other hand, with an October 1959 article by Anita
Pensotti from the Italian weekly magazine Oggi as his stated source,
writes that Lanza had performed E Lucevan le Stelle on that final
evening for the Clinic's staff.

Come Prima or E Lucevan le Stelle? I'd put money on it being the
latter, especially if the source of the Come Prima tale was a British
tabloid.

Cheers
Derek
Message has been deleted

Derek McGovern

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Oct 7, 2013, 12:20:34 AM10/7/13
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Tomorrow, October 7th, marks the 52nd anniversary of Mario Lanza's passing. Almost forty years ago, the British film writer David Shipman, in an extraordinarily mean-spirited and inaccurate chapter on the man in his second volume of The Great Movie Stars, claimed that, apart from a few "posthumous fan club members," Lanza "...is perhaps only remembered by some aged MGM accountants." 

Shipman couldn't have been more wrong. There's not a day when my Lanza "Google alert" doesn't deliver a handful of media references to the tenor into my email inbox---another tribute here, a musical on his life there, and the seemingly neverending praise by the many great singers and musicians who were inspired by him.

In fact, if Shipman had been paying attention back in 1971, he would have noticed that it wasn't just "aged MGM accountants" who still remembered Lanza; it was revered figures from throughout the musical world. These people couldn't have cared less about Lanza's supposed misdeeds. As the great Louis Armstrong told the New York Times that same year, 

"I listen to my idols; I ain't going to worry about their personals. Just the music, that's all I'm interested in. I listen to Caruso; Mario Lanza was on the other day, and sang it so beautifully. I didn't wonder why he died, and how he died, nothing. Just singing there, and that's what I enjoy."

In the spirit of that enjoyment, let's raise a glass to a great singer. A singer who epitomizes the credo of his devoted admirer, Plácido Domingo, that a performing artist should "arrive at the heart and soul of the people."

Cheers!
 

Michael McAdam

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Oct 6, 2011, 4:34:04 PM10/6/11
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Good post, Derek.
I'm raising a glass of Kiwi Merlot at the moment. To you and your untiring support of the electrifying force of nature who died 52 years ago tomorrow (wonder if it will prompt any radio play of his music?)...and to Freddy/Mario, of course.
 
I tuned into the new "Idol" clone, "the X-Factor" last evening to see if the talent included any budding tenors or sopranos. 'Fraid not! Would that I could will Simon Cowell to put on an excerpt of a great Lanza recording to demonstrate what real "talent" sounded like back in the day. I'm sure many of those shouting, straining performers would be stunned.
My wife sez I'm a voice in the wilderness ('Voce e Wilde'? ;-))
Mike

Muriel

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Oct 7, 2011, 12:29:16 PM10/7/11
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Mario, If I Loved You, I would have tell you You're The Song Angels Sing. Wonder Why? Because of the amazing recorded legacy you left to Serenade us, Day In, Day Out, Tomorrow and for all time to come.
Let me tell you All The Things You Are To Me: You are The Toast Of New Orleans, you're my Bayou Lullaby, my Guardian Angel, my Sweet Mystery of Life, My Buddy. You make days feel like the Golden Days of Summertime In Heidelberg, and, When Day Is Done, it is The Loveliest Night Of The Year - certainly a Night To Remember.
You can transport me to the Seven Hills Of Rome, where I'll Tramp, Tramp, Tramp those hills, and Drink, Drink, Drink, until I have to reluctantly say, "Arrivederci, Roma". O Paradiso!! You Do Something To Me: I feel Younger Than Springtime, and I Walk Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise. I Know, I Know, I Know, all this sounds like I've Got You Under My Skin, and You Are But A Dream - and I have too much Time On My Hands.
But - today is a time for Memories and time to tell you that you are One Alone in my thoughts. Long Ago And Far Away, I discovered the sound of your voice and I'll Never Walk Alone when I play your music. I miss you More Than You know.....
Thine Alone, Muriella
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leeann

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Oct 8, 2011, 10:38:19 AM10/8/11
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You know, this is a wonderful thread to read, beautiful, really.

And as I read and learn more about who Mario Lanza was, about the person behind the music, about his enjoyment of people and love of laughter I have to conjecture that probably he'd raise a glass of wine to these posts as well, then break into laughter and maybe join Muriel's whimsy.  So many ways to remember a complex and fascinating man. Thank you! Best, Lee Ann

Derek McGovern

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Oct 6, 2013, 10:43:46 PM10/6/13
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My dear Muriella: That was a lovely piece of whimsy, as Lee Ann so accurately described it. And equally lovely, of course, to see you posting!

Less whimsical---actually downright wistful, really---is Jim Kilbourne's imagined obituary for Mario Lanza had he lived to a ripe (and happy) old age, and never walked out on MGM:

What Could and Should Have Been
by James Kilbourne

October 7, 2004. Philadelphia, Pa. The curtains of the movie theatres and opera houses of the world were closed today in memory of the great Mario Lanza, whose phenomenal career and life came to a peaceful end in his home town of Philadelphia. It is here that he had come to die at age 83, after a career that touched the lives of millions from every corner of the world.

Born on January 31, 1921, the same year that his hero Enrico Caruso died, Lanza starred as the famed tenor in the movie The Great Caruso (1951), when he was less than thirty years old. After some legendary battles with MGM studios following the wildly successful film, Lanza made The Student Prince (1953), The Desert Song (1954), and The Vagabond King (1955). It was in 1955 that Mario Lanza made history, however, when his first complete opera movie, La Boheme, was released to undreamed of financial success. His collaboration with Michael Todd in this successful effort led to the filming of another twenty-four complete operas, all of which are still shown in regular re-releases around the world. All twenty-five operas are now available in DVD format, complete with background extras and interviews, and with translations in over twenty languages. They have become the basis of a high school educational program that has grown to encompass all the fine arts and is offered in over forty countries.

Most of his fellow-artists in these great projects have now passed on. However, Beverly Sills was quoted as saying, “The highlights of my career were the movies I made with Mario of Manon (1967) and Roberto Devereux (1972). Just to sing with such an artist would be enough for a lifetime. Having the films by which to remember him forever is a great comfort for me today.”

After the surprise financial success of La Boheme with Renata Tebaldi, Lanza made three more hit films with her: Andrea Chenier (1956), Madama Butterfly (1956), and Otello (1958). However, it was Mario Lanza and Maria Callas, both American artists, who combined to create the great opera revival that continues to this day. They made eight opera movies together: Tosca (1957) Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (1959), Norma (1960), I Puritani (1961), La Traviata (1962), Turandot (1964), Carmen (1965) and Medea (1975). Callas was often quoted for her remark about Pagliacci: “Mario Lanza’s performance as Canio defines the power of opera. This was the combination of music and drama in a characterization to which all artists aspire. You could hear a pin drop in the theatre the night of the film’s debut in Rome. No one moved for several minutes after the curtain came down. Canio’s tragedy was shared by everyone that night, and the reaction is the same each time this performance is presented.”

During his long career, Mario Lanza made 19 million-selling recordings, including “Be My Love” (1950), which forever remained his theme song. Other best sellers included “Climb Every Mountain” (1965) and “The Impossible Dream” (1968). His five albums of opera and Broadway duets with his fellow- American artist Anna Moffo all surpassed one million in sales, as did their Lucia di Lammermoor (1964). But to many it was his last million seller, “Bring Him Home”(1987), from the movie Les Miserables, that is considered his finest non-operatic recording. It has become the theme song of those who wait for their loved ones held by authoritarian regimes, and is said to have inspired the release of many political prisoners by sympathetic prison guards in Eastern Europe during the collapse of communism.

Sales of his 1959 recording of the complete Pagliacci, which was the only recording of a complete opera to sell two million copies, more than matched Caruso’s 1917 sales of one million copies of that opera’s show stopping “Vesti La Giubba.” Mario said that his three favorite opera movies were Turandot (with Callas and Renata Scotto, 1964), Aida (with Leontyne Price, 1969), and his 1979 remake of Otello (with Lindsay Perigo as Iago and Kiri Te Kanawa as Desdemona). The last, with Lanza’s darkened voice and greater insight into the tortured mind of Shakespeare’s brooding Moor, is generally considered the finest opera on film.

Each year that Lanza made his opera movies, he would open the season at a major opera house, starting with La Boheme at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955, continuing with I Puritani at La Scala in 1961, and concluding with his final tour of Otello at most of the major opera houses around the world between 1979 and his retirement from the operatic stage in 1984 at the age of 63. Despite temperatures that dipped into the teens, lines started forming at the Met three days before his last performance on his 63rd birthday, and no one who was lucky enough to be there that night would argue with the New York Times critic Alan Rich’s assessment of the evening: “The performance was overwhelming, and pure Lanza. He was lost in the role of Otello, and we were lost in Mario Lanza. The voice, surely the most prodigious and beautiful that this listener has ever heard, was more powerful and human than I had ever heard it. For over 40 years, Mr. Lanza shared with us this great voice and his grand soul. He opened our eyes to the transformational power of musical drama. His last night on the stage, the artistic culmination of his career, was his and opera’s greatest triumph.”

Mario Lanza continued singing at sold-out concerts until the age of 67, when he made his farewell at the White House, singing the Schubert “Ave Maria” and Malotte’s “Lord’s Prayer” before President and Mrs. Reagan. He was last seen in public at the White House in 2002, when President Bush presented him with the Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

The singer’s death came gently and in loving peace with his wife of fifty-eight years, Betty, and their four children by his side. Thousands of fans kept a vigil outside his window in his childhood neighborhood known as “Little Italy.” The crowds had covered the streets with straw, “so that the horses and carts would not disturb the great man in his final hours” - a symbolic remembrance of the expression of public affection for Giuseppe Verdi a century earlier at the end on another great era in music.


Muriel

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Oct 9, 2011, 2:48:17 PM10/9/11
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Thanks, Lee Ann and Derek. I'm glad you took my post in the spirit in which I wrote it. Some might think it a little frivolous, but I've written so many serious remembrances of Mario in the past that I thought I'd take a different approach  this year. I'll send along one I'd previously written just to let those who do not know me that I'm a diehard Lanza admirer:
 

A Voice To Remember

“And so it seems that we have met before, and laughed before, and loved before, but who knows where or when?”

These lyrics appropriately describe my reaction upon hearing Mario’s voice after years of not having his music in my life. Where was he and how did I lose track of him? Thankfully, his films were on video and CDs had begun to be available, making my reunion with Mario a joyous happening. I “do” know where and when I heard and saw him. He was part of my young life and, obviously made an enduring imprint on my very being.

What amazed me was, my subconscious mind had never forgotten that incredibly extraordinary voice. By the second word I was taken back in time and the memories began to wash over me. Mario Lanza: a voice to remember.

Recently, a forum member had remarked that the anniversary of Mario’s death was approaching. I recall thinking of the words that I would be reading on that day. Of course, we all wish he had stayed with us longer, but why don’t we rejoice instead and celebrate his vitality and energy? He will always be with us, full of youth and charisma. His phenomenal talent will never be forgotten as long as his music is played and we write down how he touches us.

How will I remember the many facets of Mario on this day? I will not try to cover all of his talents in one day, but will savor different aspects of his genius over many days. Today I’ll watch and listen to him as Otello singing, “Dio, mi potevi scagliar, tutti mali, della miseria – della vergogna…”, and as Canio, singing, “Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto!”. The following day I’ll hear a Neapolitan sing, “Te voglio – te penzo – te chiammo – te veco – te sento – te sonno…” (Passione), and “…comm’a chesta vucchella, che pare na rusella, nu poco pocorillo appassuliatella….” (A Vucchella). On yet another day Mario will give me inspiration from I’ll Walk With God, and I’ll again watch and hear his Lord’s Prayer in Because You’re Mine.

Day four will be devoted to musicals and operettas: the sumptuous Serenade from The Student Prince, Love Me Tonight from The Vagabond King (“Love me tonight, now while I long for you…), All The Things You Are from Very Warm For May (“You are the angel glow that lights a star…”), and The Donkey Serenade from The Firefly. How about a little Caruso favorites on day five? “Chiudimi, O notte, nel tuo sen materno…” is from L’Alba Separa Dalla Luce L’Ombra, and Ideale’s, “”Torna, caro ideal, torna un istante a sorridermi ancora….” with the haunting “Torna”s at the end is a true Italian feast.

I might want to spend two splendid days dedicated to magnificent love songs. Mario recorded so many that it’s difficult to stop with a few. How about, Begin The Beguine for starters: “Till the stars that were there before, return above you…Till you whisper to me once more, ‘Darling, I love you’, and we suddenly know what heaven we’re in, when they begin the Beguine.” I must include Love Is The Sweetest Thing: “This is the tale that never will tire, this is the song without end…” and My Romance: “Wide awake, I can make my most fantastic dreams come true. My romance doesn’t need a thing but you.” Beautiful Love is a treasure: “Reaching for Heaven, depending on you, beautiful love, will my dreams come true?”.

So, you see, I have filled an entire week reveling in Mario’s music, and I am more enchanted than ever. I’ll never tire of the tales he sings to me. His is truly a voice to remember. Let me leave you with this from I’ll Be Seeing You:

“I’ll be seeing you in every lovely summer’s day, in everything that’s light and gay, I’ll always think of you that way. I’ll find you in the morning sun and when the night is new, I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”

I’m celebrating……

 

 
PS: I've always enjoyed Jim's writings about Mario. This one is a "keeper"!!! Thanks for bringing it back.
 
Ciao for now....Muriel

leeann

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Oct 9, 2011, 9:09:06 PM10/9/11
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I'd say both are "keepers!" The essayist and the poet. Thanks again. Lee Ann

Michael McAdam

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Oct 10, 2011, 8:41:13 PM10/10/11
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Yes, Jim Kilbourne's whimsical Lanza obit is a real lump-in-the-throat read. Indeed, what could have been!
 
Muriella donation to the day? what can one say? Such affectionate and poetic lines devoted to the great singing love of her life can only come from one with a heart such as hers .
 
Mike

Derek McGovern

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Oct 7, 2012, 2:25:40 AM10/7/12
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As it's now October 7th in my part of the world, I thought I'd revive this thread for members and non-members alike who would like to note the 53rd anniversary of Mario Lanza's death.

53 years! And still Lanza remains one of the most discussed---and honoured---tenors of the twentieth century. He's still arguably the most controversial of all the great tenors as well, of course, but with each year his detractors' cries grow more irrelevant. And when even the youngest of today's great tenors records and performs a tribute to his idol, one just knows that Lanza's legacy is in safe hands.

But for those lingering Lanza-doubters---and, more importantly, as a salute to the man himself---here is testimony that eloquently underlines Mario Lanza's worth as both a singer and a human being. Kindly provided by Armando, the first account is from the son of Sicilan tenor Michelangelo Verso (1920-2006), and the second from Sam Steinman, Lanza's publicity agent from 1957 to 1959.

Enjoy---and happy Mario Lanza Day, everyone!

Cheers
Derek


Michelangelo Verso Jr. talks about his father, and singing teacher Enrico Rosati’s comments on Lanza (and others)

My father, Michelango Verso, received singing lessons and advice from the famous and legendary Maestro Enrico Rosati, who at that time lived in New York and who had been the singing teacher of Beniamino Gigli and Mario Lanza.

Rosati always attached much importance to the correct interpretation and clear diction of the text and said: “Listen how Gigli, Jan Kiepura, Miguel Fleta, Di Stefano and Mario Lanza interpreted!” 

For these tenors he had a particular admiration and when he met Giuseppe di Stefano (a Sicilian too) for the first time in Mexico in 1957, they immediately became friends for life. 

About Mario Lanza he said that no tenor ever has been able to sing and to interpret in such an excellent way like he did. “If a tenor had to imitate Lanza with the same energy and power he performed, then he would end up killing himself or damaging his voice!" 

My father was very much impressed by Lanza when he saw the movie “The Great Caruso” for the first time in New York and confided to me that he was a bit depressed afterwards in wanting to continue his career as a tenor.   


                         *****************************************************************************************************************************************************************



Sam Steinman, 1965 letter to Pauline Franklin (much-loved founding member of the British Mario Lanza Society)     

      

Mario Lanza was a living legend in his own lifetime. It is true that he had his failings and it is unfortunate that those who live on sensationalism have exaggerated the faults without knowing anything of the virtues. 

I knew Mario during his lifetime and I was close to him. I spoke to him on the telephone on the day of his death and he died a few moments before I arrived at the hospital to visit him. The good side of Mario far outweighed the picayune things which have been so vastly exaggerated by writings seeking to gain pittance. 

To me Mario will always be in memory as a big overgrown kid who really did not know what had hit him. Sometimes he sat down and asked why the gift of a great voice was given to him, and he always spoke of it as a sacred trust which would be passed on to someone else. He never considered it as a possession. The voice gave him the power to do many things and he enjoyed living to the hilt. Too bad it was not his fate to live to a ripe old age.

The heritage of Mario's music reveals the strength of character which he had. He was resolute in standing by his friends. His greatest fault was putting trust in people whom he did not know too well. Too many took advantage of him through this during his lifetime and even more have done so since he left us.

Mario was a sincere friend who enjoyed seeing others enjoy themselves. He entertained on the grand manner and was one of the finest hosts I have ever met. But there was never any pomp in the Lanza household--it was fun at all hours and nothing was better than a good laugh. Too bad that all of this is gone with Mario, but Mario Lanza is an even greater legend today, five years after his death than he was in his lifetime.   

Steff

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Oct 7, 2012, 6:58:19 AM10/7/12
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     Remembering Mario Lanza today ...... as every day ...
 
 

"If, out of the cadences of Times, I have evoked one note that,
clear and true, vibrates gratefully on the heartstrings of
the public, I am well content." (John Philip Sousa)

 

 
    Mario surely has .....
 
    Steff

 

Derek McGovern

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Oct 6, 2013, 10:48:56 PM10/6/13
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Today---October 7th---marks the 54th anniversary of Mario Lanza's passing. I salute a man and artist whose extraordinary gifts changed my life forty years ago, and wish, as always, that I could have thanked him personally. 

Armando

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Oct 7, 2013, 12:05:18 AM10/7/13
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On Monday, October 7, 2013 1:48:56 PM UTC+11, Derek McGovern wrote:
Today---October 7th---marks the 54th anniversary of Mario Lanza's passing. I salute a man and artist whose extraordinary gifts changed my life forty years ago, and wish, as always, that I could have thanked him personally. 

 

Hi Derek: You may not have been able to thank him personally, but what you have done throughout the years and continue to do is a lasting tribute to Lanza. As such, anyone interested in his artistry, be it old admirers or newcomers, owes you a tremendous debt.

Armando

 

Vincent Di Placido

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Oct 7, 2013, 4:25:03 AM10/7/13
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Well said Armando! I've said it before & I'll say it again, Derek you are a shining light & you do amazing work for Mario & us fans!
How the years fly by...
Our wonderful, crazy, beautiful, misunderstood & talented Mario was gone far too soon!
I love you, Mario! Thanks for all the beauty, joy & excitement & for always being my best musical friend :-)

Derek McGovern

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Oct 7, 2013, 10:25:12 AM10/7/13
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Thanks for the kind words, Armando and Vince! Really appreciate it---and I'm sure you both know how much I reciprocate those feelings. 

Speaking of which, I just want to add a comment that I found a while back which underlines Vince's observation that the man was tragically misunderstood in his own lifetime. None other than Anna Moffo said this to the Boston Globe in December 1978:

"Sometimes it seems you have to die like poor Mario Lanza or . . . Maria [Callas] before the public will finally come around and say, 'I never realized what they went through.'"

While in Mario's case the lovely Moffo may well have overestimated the public's understanding in those days of this "wonderful, crazy, beautiful" character---and the insecurities that tore him apart---I think there is a far greater appreciation (and sympathy) today for all that he suffered. And for that we largely have your book to thank, Armando, and the incredible amount of research that preceded it. You, more than anyone else, illuminated the life and character of this endlessly fascinating man. 

Derek  

leeann

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Oct 7, 2013, 12:17:29 PM10/7/13
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Derek wrote:


On Monday, October 7, 2013 10:24:58 AM UTC-4, Derek McGovern wrote:
Thanks for the kind words, Armando and Vince! Really appreciate it---and I'm sure you both know how much I reciprocate those feelings. 



I would still be overwhelmed by Lanza's voice, still feel its profound and unalterable impact, of course. But I wouldn't understand the voice or the man or, actually, an enormous field of related ideas and topics as well, without Derek's work, Armando's book, and the really remarkable contributions people take the time to share. So, it's a good day to thank you all. Very deeply.  Lee Ann

Derek McGovern

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Oct 7, 2014, 5:45:23 AM10/7/14
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Remembering my favourite singer on this the 55th anniversary of his death... 


Vincent Di Placido

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Oct 7, 2014, 2:19:21 PM10/7/14
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Still lovin' you Mario, gone 55 years, crazy! It is *THE* voice for me, beautiful, expressive & inspiring! Yes, definitely still lovin' you!!!

Armando

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Oct 7, 2014, 5:44:55 PM10/7/14
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In memory of the singer who has thrilled me like no other for more than sixty years.


Derek McGovern

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Oct 7, 2018, 12:49:14 AM10/7/18
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A couple of years ago, on a different Lanza forum, I mentioned in one of my posts that it must have been difficult for some moviegoers in 1959 to watch the Otello Death Scene in Lanza's final movie, For the First Time. The film was released in the US in mid-August 1959 -- seven weeks before Lanza died -- but elsewhere many of Mario's admirers would not have seen it until after his death.  My post prompted a moving anecdote from Armando, one that I'd now like to share with you all:


Derek: by a strange twist, on the evening of October 7, 1959, my cousin and I had gone to a preview screening of For the First Time. At 9.15pm (Australian time, 9 hours ahead) as we were watching the film Mario was dying the news broke the following morning.


That day, instead of turning on the radio in the morning - as I usually did - to listen to the news, I was telling my mother all about the film, the singing and so on. It was not until I got on the tram, on my way to class, that I suspected something had happened. I was standing directly opposite a man sitting down who was reading The Sun, one of the daily papers. Reading it upside down, I was able to make out "Lanza", but the word next to it seemed to be "dead"! I suddenly felt my stomach turn, and as I got off the tram I ran to a newsstand and bought both The Sun and The Age. It was true: Mario was dead!


How could it be? He was coming to Australia, they had been talking about an imminent tour since 1958, and now he was gone! I don't know how I managed to get through the day. I was in a total daze. My school companions were asking me what was wrong. Finally, I just broke down. To my amazement they understood. I was grateful to them for respecting my grief. A week later, when For the First Time opened at the Metro theatre. I went again. There were people sobbing, and some walking out during the Otello sequence. Very moving.




Thanks so much for this, Armando. Perhaps some of our other members will have stories to share as well.

Derek McGovern

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Oct 6, 2015, 11:44:14 PM10/6/15
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Today marks the 56th anniversary of Mario Lanza's passing. I salute a phenomenal talent and a beautiful human being.

Armando

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Oct 7, 2015, 10:32:32 PM10/7/15
to Mario Lanza, Tenor


After 56 years his unique voice and talent have stood the test of time.Unforgettable and irreplaceable.


Steff

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Mar 12, 2016, 6:40:28 AM3/12/16
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I thought this recollection might have a good place here on this thread. It is part of an article titled “No other Life” written by Gerald Early. Gerald Early is an essayist, born in Philadelphia in 1952 (see photo taken from Wikipedia).

 

[…] When I was a boy, old Italian peddlers still delivered milk by horse-drawn carts, and there was still a great deal of Italian spoken among the older residents, although the kids resisted the language mightily and few could speak it, although many understood it. The most famous person who was ever a member of this church—St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi—and who went to the elementary school where my mother was the crossing guard was a singer named Mario Lanza.

The house where Lanza was born and grew up, 636 Christian Street, is now a historic landmark. For a long time, during my boyhood, whenever I passed the house, in the front window was a huge picture of Lanza with a lighted candle on either side of it. He was born Alfred Cocozza, and I remember whenever I heard his grandfather, or a man I was told was his grandfather but it could have been his father, refer to him, he always called him Freddy. He was willing to talk about Lanza to anyone who was willing to listen, even his black newspaper boy. He told me Lanza was the greatest tenor since Caruso. He claimed he had heard Caruso and that Freddy was better. Who was I to dispute that claim? After all, by the time I was 12 years old and delivering the Philadelphia Inquirer to Lanza’s relatives who were still living in the house, I had seen Lanza’s most celebrated film, The Great Caruso, made in 1951, about three times, and was convinced that he was the greatest singer I had ever heard. He certainly made opera appealing, even sexy, a form of music I would normally not have listened to at all. I loved The Great Caruso and nearly cried at the end when Caruso dies, thinking, probably because I saw the film several years after Lanza died, that it was the story of his life rather than Caruso’s. Emotionally, I was sure that Lanza himself died at the end of the film, although intellectually, I knew better. But it was accepted in the neighborhood that Lanza was the American Caruso. Every Saturday, for many years, at Lanza’s family home, his records would always be playing, sometimes serenading the block. (Some people, naturally, preferred Caruso and played his records, but these were in the minority.) In this way, I associated opera with the Italians I grew up with in much the way I associated them with homemade wine when the block smelled of fermenting grapes every Friday and Saturday. I made this association even though nearly all of the Italian kids I knew hated opera, did not like Mario Lanza, and were ashamed that their parents made wine in their basements. I found all of this a comfort.

Lanza attracted a great deal of attention from the beginning. Everyone who knew opera and those who thought they did thought he had an exceptional voice. What struck many people was its natural, melodramatic quality, its over-emotional sensibility. These very elements struck audiences about Caruso’s voice, with his trademark sighs and cries that became tricks on evenings when he couldn’t feel the music or wasn’t up to performing. In other words, even during his student days, there was something about Lanza as a “natural singer,” as someone wrapped in the quaintness of his ethnicity, that captured the fancy of those around him. This image was to dog him his entire career, particularly as a central part of the criticism that he was not truly an opera singer at all. After all, the criticism went, if he were he would be singing in operas on stage. And there was more than a bit of the barrel-chested machismo of the inner-city ethnic in him. As he confided once to his close friend and personal trainer, Terry Robinson, “It’s all sex, Terry. When I’m singing, I’m scoring. That’s me. It comes right out of my balls.”

He was discovered in the army by Peter Lind Hayes, who was looking for singers for a production the army was putting on for the troops called “On the Beam.” Lanza did concerts for the rest of the war. One might say he sang his way through the conflict, much better than fighting one’s way through. Immediately after the war, he was signed by RCA Red Seal, the prestigious classical label, and eventually became its biggest selling artist by far. In 1947, he became a member of the Bel Canto Trio, an operatic group that earned huge popularity. It was at a Bel Canto Trio concert at the Hollywood Bowl in August 1947 that Lanza was discovered by Louis B. Mayer, an opera buff and head of the MGM studio. Lanza was not only never to become a true opera star; for some, he was never to be a true opera singer again. He permitted himself to be sucked into the vat of popular culture, always claiming he was doing more for opera in this way than if he were actually to perform in operas: a self-serving, dubious, but not altogether dismissive claim. Lanza was, unquestionably, an integrative figure, an integrative symbol. This was his power and his significance. His undoing was that what he unified was a set of commercialized fantasies which unraveled him both as an image and a person (much the same happened to Elvis Presley, with whom Lanza shares some fascinating similarities.) Two other things should be noted about Lanza by the time he signed with MGM: he married an Irish woman, which annoyed his mother greatly, and he did not want to return to Philadelphia, or Little Italy. While he always remained an ethnic, he felt he had outgrown the old neighborhood.
By 1955, when my mother began her career as a school crossing guard at his former elementary school, Lanza’s Hollywood career had already peaked, but between 1949 and 1953, he was MGM’s biggest box-office attraction. His first three films—That Midnight Kiss, The Toast of New Orleans and The Great Caruso— were among the top-grossing movies of the years of their release. The Caruso bio is now probably his most remembered film. It is certainly the most popular film about opera ever made in America. It is, of course, now a rather complex period piece about the time of Caruso as well as its own time, although it is not a good film, being much in the same vein as other biopics of the era like Houdini with Tony Curtis and The Benny Goodman Story with Steve Allen. These films ideologically were meant, in the 1950s, to symbolize something about American plenitude and the American Dream. The formula was struggling artist eventually makes good because talent will out in the end, marries some WASP woman, or some very WASP-ish looking woman, the biggest social prize the United States can offer a successful ethnic man, dies tragically if the life requires it or lives goldenly if the subject is still living at the time the film is made.


The Great Caruso does not seem to be about opera as much as it is a kind of technologically inventive opera in its own right about ethnic assimilation in the United States, mystifying the Italian-Catholic ethnic as magnificent divo who is not cultured himself but through whom high culture can be expressed and preserved. Lanza simply had to wear tight-fitting, opulent clothes that accentuated his barrel chest, look suitably cute as an ethnic, emote a great deal when singing, and try not to forget his accent too often. In effect, as Caruso, Lanza could personify desire while deflecting the audience from thinking about the nature of desire in general or Caruso’s desires specifically. Lanza was not a gifted actor, but he was a considerable presence, which, in the end, was all Hollywood hired him to be.


The very thing that made Lanza attractive to Hollywood was the source of his undoing in another way: he was a handsome young man who could make operatic singing sexy. Unfortunately for Lanza, he was a big man, weighing normally over 200 pounds. Photography is not kind to heavy people, and Hollywood seemed to have no other way of conceiving someone as sexy except as being relatively thin. When he would go on eating binges, which he did especially as temper tantrums, he could balloon up to as much as 250 pounds or more. Four weeks before the actual filming would begin, Lanza would record the soundtracks of his films. He would then be very heavy, as he, MGM, and the knowing ones of opera were all convinced that opera singers sang better, had better resonance, when they were heavy. But as soon as the recording of the soundtrack was completed, Lanza would have a few weeks in which to lose as much as 50 pounds in order to have the stereotyped appearance of a romantic lead. Lanza’s mad fluctuations in weight played havoc on both his appearance and his health. Toward the end of his career, he suffered from gout, phlebitis and hypertension. Despite rumors about Lanza having been murdered by Lucky Luciano because of a snub, it would seem more likely, until definitive evidence says otherwise, that Lanza died of a heart attack or heart failure as a result of intense dieting.

His death in the fall of 1959 sent Little Italy, Philadelphia, into spasms of grief that bewildered and frightened me as a boy. (Much as Caruso’s death at the age of 48 in 1921 sent the Little Italys of the world into anguish.) The white pop radio stations played nothing but Lanza records. The black stations we listened to most of the time ignored Lanza’s death like he never existed. They simply announced it on their news broadcasts without any commentary. This was my first vague lesson in how to measure the degrees of separation that existed between the worlds of each race. But it did not clearly register with me quite how racial difference worked, and I felt very bad for the bereaved Italians and did not clearly understand why all the blacks I knew did not feel bad themselves or bad for the Italians, too. The banner headline in the October 7, 1959, Philadelphia Daily News that announced Lanza’s death stunned me so much that I was afraid to even touch the paper, let alone look at the comics, which was all I could do with a daily paper at the age of seven. (The huge headline which, along with a picture of Lanza, took up the entire front page, read: MARIO LANZA DIES IN ROME; HEART ATTACK.) This death snapped the sense of stability, of serenity, of my world. Lanza’s death was as surreal and dislocating to me at that age as hearing about a child being raped or murdered, the news stories that most shocked and disturbed me in my childhood. Men and women were literally crying in the streets. Some women actually dressed in mourning. Although Lanza’s improperly embalmed, badly decomposed, bloated, stinking body was buried in Los Angeles, California, St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi held a memorial service for him, perhaps at the request of some of his relatives in the neighborhood. The place was packed. There were so many long black cars and women and men dressed in black that I thought Lanza was being buried in Philadelphia. Nuns and parents openly expressed their sense of loss to my mother, who felt much saddened by it all, too, not because she was necessarily a fan of Lanza’s, but because these people she had come to know were taking his death very hard. Shortly after, the picture of Lanza and the two lighted candles were placed in the window at 636 Christian Street. I remember that more clearly than any other memorial or monument I saw while growing up in Philadelphia. As I told my wife, who was surprised by that assertion, I saw Lanza’s picture nearly every day for many years of my life. I saw the Liberty Bell only twice […].”
 
 
 
You can read the complete article, which, in 2001) appeared in the alumni magazine “The Pennsylvania Gazette” (March/April 2001), here:
 

http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0301/early.html

Steff

Gerald Early.jpg
No Other Life.JPG

Derek McGovern

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Oct 7, 2016, 9:41:42 AM10/7/16
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Remembering Mario on the 57th anniversary of his passing.

And while you're visiting this thread, do take the time to read the many beautiful posts on both pages, starting with this one

Derek McGovern

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Oct 7, 2017, 6:38:39 AM10/7/17
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Today---October 7, 2017---marks the 58th anniversary of Mario Lanza's death. 

It's been a particularly fine year for Lanza's legacy, with the Sepia Records CD One Alone released in January, the excellent documentary The Best of Everything in March, and then a memorable Fiat ad featuring his "Come Prima" in July. May the riches continue in 2018! 

Palmarola2012

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Oct 8, 2017, 1:25:38 AM10/8/17
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Dear Derek:  I also recall as Armando did, the first time I learned of Mario's death.  I recorded the experience in a presentation of my book, "A Kid from Philadelphia, Mario Lanza, the Voice of the Poets." (The book continues to be a global best seller which shows that Mario is still popular and well known). 

What happened that day to me on October 7th, 1959 is explained in the story below, which, as I noted was part of my presentation.  Best wishes, Emilio

“A Kid from Philadelphia, Mario Lanza, the Voice of the Poets” 

Emilio Iodice

                              Picture of Mario Lanza

My fascination with Mario Lanza started on October 7th, 1959.  Our family, like other Italian immigrants, was large and extended.  Three cousins lived with us in our duplex in New York.  One was a brilliant carpenter.  He studied history, art and music.  Gaetano loved opera. 

That day, he came home early from work.  I had just arrived from school.  As I passed his room, I heard crying.  It was deep and sorrowful.  I sensed a heart-rending event.  I imagined the loss of a close family member or friend.  I drew all the courage I had to knock on his door.  He opened it slowly.  I sat next to him on his bed.  He looked at me with eyes swollen with tears.  “He’s dead,” he said.  His voice was muffled and deep.  I was speechless.

I expected he would tell me it was his father, mother or brother or someone so close to merit such suffering.  I could tell that chills were running through him.  He was trembling. “Mario Lanza is dead,” he said.  I was confused.  Who was this friend, this person, this name?  “He was the greatest voice and the greatest entertainer of all time,” he said, choking back an endless quantity of tears.

“He was a singer,” I said?  “He was more than that.  He was the most wonderful tenor you have ever heard.  He could sing popular songs, record spectacular LPs, do magnificent concerts, have a radio program, be on television and also make movies,” he exclaimed.  “There was no one like him.  He surpassed Caruso, Gigli and all the others because he crossed over to do what other tenors only dreamed about,” said Gaetano.  He was inconsolable.

His room had a record player and a stack of Italian recordings.  On top was “The Great Caruso.”  A handsome young man, dressed in a tuxedo and standing on a stage with an orchestra was on the cover. Gaetano took the album from the pile and held it to his chest.  It seemed like it was a relic of sacred value.  With care, he took out the disc and gingerly laid it on the turn table.  He started the machine and put the needle on the record. 

Out poured music I never heard before.  They were violins and a cornucopia of strings.  Suddenly, a voice filled the room.  It seemed like the orchestra was playing to it.  It was thrilling. It was strong, young and powerful. It was melodic, overflowing with a smooth musicality that reminded me of waves rolling over the sea with rhythm, strength, softness and perfection.   It was the first time I heard Mario Lanza.  It was “La Donna e Mobile” from “The Great Caruso.”  Goose bumps covered my arms and legs.  My face turned flush with wonder.  For the next two hours, Gaetano and I listened to one record after another. 

It was hard to believe that the same person who sang “Celeste Aida,” and “O Sole Mio” with such emotion could now drift into the world of the “Student Prince” with “Deep in My Heart Dear” and “Serenade” and sail into the sphere of love with amazing songs like “Love is the Sweetest Thing,” “My Romance,” “If I Loved You,” and “Danny Boy.”

I understood how Gaetano felt.  The world had lost something special.  It was a rich talent that gave immense pleasure and joy. Lanza had an inspirational voice.  It was warm yet powerful.  It was clear and, if perfection existed, it was as close to being perfect that any human could achieve. 

I was struck with an immediate fascination.  I had to learn more.  In a theatre near my house was playing “For the First Time.”  Gaetano and I went to see it.  Throughout the motion picture I heard people crying.  The movie was joyful and Mario was at his best. I could not believe that shortly after the film was finished he died at 38.  It was incredible. 

From that day forward I became a fan of Mario Lanza.  Nine months after his passing, I finished elementary school.  I graduated with high honors.  My father said I could choose any reasonable gift I wanted.  He expected a bicycle or an encyclopedia, which were both things I longed for.  Instead, I asked if we could visit the record shop in Little Italy in Manhattan. 

It was on Mulberry Street.  The store was filled with thousands of recordings.  Most prominent were works of Mario Lanza.  They were everywhere.  As my gift I wanted to hear Mario and Caruso.  We left the store an hour later.  I had 6 Lanza albums that ranged from opera to pop to religious to Christmas.  A special Caruso compilation included 3 LPs with nearly 100 of his best performances.  I was in heaven.

For the next month I devoured arias and songs with 2 voices that electrified me.  Caruso was luxurious, deep and wide.  It was oceanic.  Mario Lanza was something else.  I could identify with this first generation Italian American.  He had perfect English diction and his Italian seemed impeccable. His voice was young, energetic, filled with power.  I could see images when he sang.  They were of cascading falls, sea gulls and eagles flying, angels with harps and performers with violins. I could feel emotion.  I understood love by delving into the sensations from his voice caressing the words of poets who had sent pieces of their hearts as lyrics to give life to music.  It was amazing. 

As I entered my high school years, I studied Mario, Caruso and every tenor since the start of recordings.  I read voraciously about their lives and careers.  Each week I consumed the latest issue of “Opera News.”  I could never afford a ticket to the Metropolitan but listened to the live Saturday radio broadcasts. I was enthralled by what I heard and could see in my mind’s eye.  I imagined the scenery, the settings, and the story and was captured again and again by the voices and the flights of emotion that only opera can provide.

By the time I finished my university education, I had listened too and studied every Italian opera and heard nearly every performer who had set their voice to discs since the start of the 20th century.  Each was unique.  Some were incomparable.  I had examined, in my own personal way, every artist.  I was a true lover of “grand voices.”  Finally, I set a benchmark.  Enrico Caruso, as Lanza often said, was by far, the richest and broadest of tenors.  He soared with pure power and energy.  He was the opera king and would remain so until the dawn of Luciano Pavarotti.

Mario Lanza was something else.  His flair for opera was more direct and resolute.  He was not burdened with hours on the stage, reciting and acting.  He focused on arias that were popular, intense yet concentrated with sentiment.  His passion was the key.  He brought excitement to each performance and sang as if it was his last.  Lanza’s fervor and enthusiasm was unmatched.  His versatility set him apart for everyone else.  His recordings of popular songs became solo hits that only he could perform.  Whenever I needed to feel creative and stimulated, I turned to listen to Mario.  I never grew tired.  I heard “Long Ago and Far Away,” a dozen times, yet each seemed new and different.  No other singer had such an impact on me.

As the years turned into decades, I continued to search for performers who could match Mario in all his creativity and talent.  I found the specialists like the splendid tenors of the majestic opera houses who the world knew and loved.  They devoted their lives of lyric opera.  No one could go beyond those boundaries and venture into other areas of entertainment with the same success as Mario Lanza.

When I met and got to know Placido Domingo, I was struck by his devotion to Lanza. He told me of how “a kid from Philadelphia” inspired him and so many others to venture into the world of opera.  He made a documentary in the 1980s, “The American Caruso,” which was a homage to Mario. It demonstrated his contribution to so many marvelous performers who wanted to be like him. 

I was inspired by Placido to write about Lanza.  I learned of the British Mario Lanza Society from my family in London.  Pam Latham was kind enough to accept some essays about Mario for “Golden Days,” the lovely newsletter of the Society.  Eventually, a number of people who read them asked that I publish them in a book.

Several fine biographies had been written and I was not interested in preparing another.  I wrote as a fan, writing for fans.  I wanted to render honor to Mario Lanza by depicting who he was and how he was to those of us whose lives were changed by his voice and by his life. 

I hope I have done so in “A Kid from Philadelphia, Mario Lanza, the Voice of the Poets.”  The work is a series of essays in English and Italian.  They start with a “Letter to Mario.” I wrote it as if he could read it from that celestial place where he now sings with the angels. It captures the feelings from the heart that only Mario Lanza could provide.  The essays range from a brief depiction of his extraordinary life to his passing on October 7th, 1959:

Letter to Mario                                                                    

An Extraordinary Life                                                         

Listen to Mario                                                                    

The Lanza Essays                                                                

A Kid from Philadelphia                                                             

Once Upon a Time there was a Boy with the

Grandest and Sweetest of Voices                                        

Mario Lanza: The Man and the Myth                                 

The Lanza Legacy: The Voice of Poets                                      

The Great Lanza: The Spiritual Dimension                        

October Seventh                                                                  

 

Each essay is a work of love and gratitude.  As I note in the Introduction: They are personal reflections, not scholarly works. They leap from the heart. They paint a picture of a performer who gave us joy and inspiration. It is a tribute to him and those who venture into the realm of entertainment. May they live long and happy lives. They give us pleasure and help dismiss thoughts of challenging moments and difficult days. Mario Lanza was such a person.”

----------------------------------------------

“A Kid from Philadelphia, Mario Lanza, the Voice of the Poets,” can be ordered from this Amazon UK site:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kid-Philadelphia-Mario-Lanza-Voice/dp/1470062917/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421320557&sr=1-4&keywords=mario+lanza+books  

Proceeds from sale of the books will also go to the British Mario Lanza Society

 

 

Courtesy collection of British Mario Lanza Society

An Extraordinary Life

Life is precious and brief. In the time we have we must do something important. It is all about doing extraordinary things and doing first for others and then for ourselves. Such was the life of Mario Lanza.

A famous soccer player said success was based on “knowing where the ball would bounce.” It is about separating noises and signals in life, probing the future and leaping into the river of living. This is what Mario Lanza did. He instinctively knew the secret to success. He prepared himself and devoted all the passion he could to attain his dreams. It produced an extraordinary life.

Here is a biographic sketch of a talent that is as fresh today as it was at its height. Placido Domingo called him, “A force of nature”:

  • Born in Philadelphia on January 31st, 1921

     

     

     

  • Seven years later he shows a strong interest in opera and listens avidly to Caruso recordings and by age twelve attends his first opera and becomes fascinated with the art and science of lyric opera.

  • By sixteen he has learned parts from numerous operas, exhibits a splendid young voice and informs his parents that his plan is to be a tenor.

  • In 1942 he debuts at the Tanglewood Festival and studies with Leonard Bernstein and other luminaries. The New York Times writes that his “superb natural voice has few equals among the tenors of the day in quality, warmth and power.”

  • He spends three years in the Second World War entertaining troops. He returns to sign a recording contract with RCA Victor and receives the amazing sum of $3000 as a bonus which was unprecedented for the time.

  • In 1947 Mario continues intense vocal studies and begins a series of nearly 90 concerts throughout the United States. He receives rave reviews. One concert included the Hollywood Bowl where the greats of the world of films see him perform. A few days later, Louis Mayer, President of Metro Goldwyn Mayer signs him to a lucrative seven year contract.

  • A year later he makes his operatic debut as Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly at the New Orleans Opera House. Critics praised his “exceptionally beautiful voice.” He begins work on his first film, That Midnight Kiss, which is released in 1949 to splendid reviews.

     

 

  • His first RCA recordings are released at the same time and are voted the Operatic Recordings of the Year. Mario turns down offers to debut at La Scala in Milan, the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan of New York.

  • In the next three years, he launches two million selling singles, his wife gives birth to the first of four children, he releases his third film, Toast of New Orleans, embarks on a nationwide concert tour and begins filming The Great Caruso which is released in 1951. It is nominated for three Oscars and wins one.

  • “The Mario Lanza Show” begins on radio in 1951 and becomes an immediate sensation. Mario records over 150 songs on the program and is considered the greatest tenor of all time and one of the world’s most popular entertainers. He begins his fourth movie, Because You’re Mine, which is released in 1952 and receives splendid critical acclaim. The movie is the first Command Performance of Queen Elizabeth of England.

  • The same year Mario dismisses his manager. His excessive trust and lack of business acumen result in serious financial problems.

  • He appears on the cover of Time Magazine and is called “The Million Dollar Voice.”

  • After recording the sound track for his fifth movie, The Student Prince, he departs from MGM in a dispute with the film’s director over the way he should sing a selection from the movie. The film is released without him as the star and is moderately successful. Mario’s recordings of the Student Prince are a major success.

  • In 1954 he begins a highly successful series of appearances on television. He starts filming Serenade a year later which proves to be one of his finest works in terms of operatic performances. He records a number of new albums that become best sellers.

  • He departs for Italy in 1957 and films The Seven Hills of Rome, and gives a Command Performance for the Queen of England at Royal Albert Hall in London to wonderful reviews.

  • Mario embarks on a whirlwind European concert tour in 1958 despite showing the first signs of overwork and considerable stress. He begins his second film in Italy, For the First Time. He records an album of Neapolitan songs that is considered one of his finest achievements and several splendid albums in the next year.

  • For the First Time reaches high in the charts of box office achievements when it is released in 1959 which is nominated for a Grammy. In the same year, he agrees to launch his operatic debut at La Scala di Milano, and the San Carlo Opera House in Naples. He signs for a new movie, more concert tours and recordings are planned plus a series of television specials when, suddenly, he dies of a heart attack in a Rome clinic, less than three months from his thirty-ninth birthday.

  • Funerals were held to honor him in Rome, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. They attracted world-wide attention and visits and condolences from around the globe. At the time of his passing he was considered one of the world’s leading tenors and singers, a highly sought after concert performer, a top recording artist and star of stage and screen.

  • Concerts in his honor are held every year, clubs, societies and institutes honor him in many countries and thousands read and follow his life and voice through web sites and the internet each day. New CDs have been released, numerous excellent biographies and articles have been written and several television specials about him have been presented in the last decade.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



On Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 11:17:57 AM UTC+1, Derek McGovern wrote:
A couple of years ago, on a different Lanza forum, I mentioned in one
of my posts that it must have been difficult for some moviegoers in
1959 to watch the Otello Death Scene in Lanza's final movie, For the
First Time. The film was released in the US in mid-August 1959 - seven
weeks before Lanza died - but elsewhere many of Mario's admirers would

not have seen it until after his death.  My post prompted a moving
anecdote from Armando, one that I'd now like to share with you all:

Derek: by a strange twist, on the evening of October 7, 1959, my cousin
and I had gone to a preview screening of For the First Time. At 9.15
pm (Australian time, 9 hours ahead) as we were watching the film

Mario was dying.

The news broke the following morning.

That day, instead of turning on the radio in the morning - as I usually did -
to listen to the news, I was telling my mother all about the film, the singing
and so on.

It was not until I got on the tram, on my way to class, that I suspected
something had happened.

I was standing directly opposite a man sitting down who was reading
The Sun, one of the daily papers. Reading it upside down, I was able to make
out "Lanza", but the word next to it seemed to be "dead"! I suddenly felt
my stomach turn, and as I got off the tram I ran to a newsstand and
bought both The Sun and The Age. It was true: Mario was dead!
How could it be? He was coming to Australia, they had been talking
about an imminent tour since 1958, and now he was gone!

I don't know how I managed to get through the day. I was in a total
daze. My school companions were asking me what was wrong. Finally, I
just broke down. To my amazement they understood. I was grateful to
them for respecting my grief.

A week later, when For the First Time opened at the Metro theatre, I went


again. There were people sobbing, and some walking out during the
Otello sequence. Very moving.


Thanks very much for this, Armando. Perhaps some of our other members

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Derek McGovern

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Oct 7, 2018, 12:44:36 AM10/7/18
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Today, October 7, 2018, marks the 59th anniversary of Mario Lanza's passing. I'd like to pay tribute to my favourite tenor by sharing one of his last recordings, "Love Me Tonight." As I wrote in the liner notes for the recent Sepia Records CD One Alone, "This is one of Lanza's most sexually charged renditions of a love song, in which he leaves little doubt of his passionate intent. Of special note are his soaring octave-leaping high As, which more than compensate for a couple of blemishes along the way."

Enjoy!

Steff Walzinger

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Oct 7, 2018, 6:18:08 AM10/7/18
to Mario Lanza, Tenor

Ciao Derek and Armando,

 

Thank you for this personal story.

As I was not yet born when Mario died (I was born in 1970, only three months before Mario's mother Maria passed away) I cannot contribute with a story of my own. However, yesterday I spotted an article titled "The Day Mario Lanza Died" by Tony Napoli from New York in which he tells his story of how he remembers the day when Mario passed away.

 

The article can be found here:

 

https://tonynapoli.com/index.php/1959/10/07/19/

 

Here's a little excerpt:

 

"We all jumped and sat up straight when our principal Sister Vincent rapped with her gold wedding band on the on the glass pane on our classroom. She called Sr. Thomas James out into the hallway and whispered something to her, both of them standing still like penguins guarding their eggs in an Arctic storm. I could see tears in their eyes – the Pope must be dead, I thought. Sister Thomas closed the door and she slowly turned to us and said “Dear children, I have very sad news, Mario Lanza is dead. He had a heart attack in Rome; he was only 38 years old.” Our whole class made a collective sigh. A few of the girls grabbed their lace handkerchiefs as I pulled out my pocket one. We all knelt down next to our desks and said a prayer for him.

In our Italian parish of Sacred Heart, Mario Lanza was a god, an idol, our hero. He was the most famous tenor in the world, a working class Italian American who made good and became a handsome romantic Hollywood movie star. The nuns all had a crush on him and I had most of his albums. I had a crush on him too ever since my mother had taken me to the Ritz Theatre to see the MGM musical, The Great Caruso. When my parents went out shopping and I was all alone, I would shut off the lights in my bedroom, put on one of his albums, lay on my bed  in the dark, and become enveloped in his warm, bell toned voice. I believed he was singing just to me.Deep in my heart dear, I have a dream of you…"

 

Steff

Palmarola2012

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Oct 7, 2018, 7:38:45 AM10/7/18
to mario...@googlegroups.com, Stefanie....@t-online.de
Dear Derek, Steff and Armando: Thank you.  I have stopped by the church here in Rome at Piazza Euclide where Mario's funeral was held.  There should be a plaque honoring his memory.  Fortunately, those who cherish what he left us have written our feelings and emotions which are worth recalling especially now.  We are a year from the 60th anniversary of his passing.  Best wishes to you and all those who love his legacy.  Attached are two of my memoirs from our wonderful site.  Regards from the Eternal City, Emilio 


Palmarola2012

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Oct 7, 2018, 7:41:49 AM10/7/18
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Dear Friends, Thank you for the personal reflections.  Here is mine, when I first heard his voice, which was on October 7th, 1959.  Warm best wishes, Emilio


Derek McGovern

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Oct 6, 2019, 8:54:06 AM10/6/19
to mario...@googlegroups.com
As it's already October 7th in my home country, New Zealand, I'll jump in early and pay tribute to my favorite tenor on this the 60th anniversary of his death.

Ciao, Mario, and thank you for enriching my life beyond compare.

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Palmarola2012

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Oct 6, 2019, 9:55:12 AM10/6/19
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Dear Derek:  Thank you.  We are fortunate to have his legacy to enjoy and as you note "enrich our lives."  I am grateful to you and all our friends for keeping his memory alive.  Best wishes, Emilio
October 7 - Mario Lanza, Tenor.htm

Palmarola2012

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Oct 6, 2019, 10:24:06 AM10/6/19
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
KNOWING MARIO FOR THE FIRST TIME.docx

Irina Kuzmishina

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Oct 6, 2019, 10:50:00 AM10/6/19
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
My aquaintance with Lanza's art happened when I was only 11 and it took place in Bulgaria where our family lived then. I had watched "The Great Caruso" in the very beginning of October 1959 and immediately became his devoted fan. There was practically no information about the singer, but was a possibility to watch his films and buy some recordings, and I started to collect them, dreaming of a chance to hear or see one day my best favourite live. The news of his death reached me only on the eve of the New Year. And it was the worst holiday in my life - among holiday fuss and gaety I was crying for several days while everybody around were welcoming the New 1960 year. Later I read that my greatest dream hdnn't been entirely impossible had Mario lived longer. He planner to have a tour in the USSR along with introducing his film "The Great Caruso"."The Great Caruso" appeared on screens there in 1961 and Lanza was chosen "The Actor of the Year" by voting of millions of cinema goers! We had moved to Moscow by that time and I was present at the preview of the film at the Club of Cinematographers, where Dorothy Kirsten was a honorary guest. It had an overwhelming success, but without one who was mostly responsible for it and wanted to introduce the film personally - without The Great Lanza.