Musical Parasites

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Tony Partington

Feb 22, 2011, 9:29:28 AM2/22/11
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
I was looking through my mail the other day and an entry poped up and
the topic surprised me. I hadn't heard this name in some time; Victor
Lanza. I remember back several years ago when Victor was making big
news as the "son of Mario Lanza" and I remember thinking then that if
indeed he is Lanza's son, why wait until now to tell the world. The
circumstances were, to my mind quite suspicious and I recall doing
some investigation. I found it particularly interesting that he di
not have a career here in the U.S. where his "dad" was so very
popular. In all events, the entry of Mario Lanza?" So I decided to
take it upon myself to answer said question. The following is my
response, I trust none of the gentle souls of this fine forum will
find what I said too harsh. One preface before I put down my answer
the email. I wanted a title for this post and struggled hard to think
of one and trhen fiinally came up with it. "Musical Parasites." This
may seem a bit harsh and even grotesque but I beg you hear me out.
Look, if you will, at the second definition of the word Parasite both
as a noun and a synonym. For me the definition fits perfectly. Now,
having said that, this was my response to the question about Victor

par·a·site   /ˈpærəˌsaɪt/ Show Spelled
[par-uh-sahyt] Show IPA

1. an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species,
known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.
2. a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another
or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives
on the hospitality of others.
3. (in ancient Greece) a person who received free meals in return for
amusing or impudent conversation, flattering remarks, etc.

No. Victor Lanza (or who ever he is ) is NOT Mario Lanza's son.
Some years ago, he tried to pawn himself off to the public as Mario
Lanza's illegitimate son. He had a passable tenor voice but was in no
way schooled properly as a true classical artist. He concertized, in
Europe mostly, and did a hackneyed tribute to his supposed father. As
far as I know, he never submitted to a DNA test to conclusively prove
the relation to Mario Lanza. When asked in public about this, Victor
Lanza's response was basically: "I know who I am and do not need to
prove it to anyone." Well, alright, but if you were indeed the son of
the great Mario Lanza, wouldn't you want the world to know it without
a doubt? I should think the remaining Lanza family would want to
embrace him with open arms no matter who is mother might be. In all
events, it is clear that Victor Lanza is NOT Mario Lanza's son just as
Cristian Lanza is NOT Mario Lanza's grandson. It is pathetic and sad
that people with mediocre talents have to try to inflate themselves by
intimately associating themselves with someone so stellar and beyond
them. They somehow think - I suppose, along the same sick line of
thinking 'guilt by association' - that they will truly become a part
of the greatness they pretend to be. It's really rather ill thinking
in my opinion. In all events, the saddest thing of all to me is that
artists like these - Victor Lanza and Cristian Lanza - cannot or will
not stand on their own true merit and ability as artists. Sink or swim
these people have chosen a sort of un-reality to live in and,
depending on how long they continue with their "careers" they will
live day after day this version of reality they've created for

I'm reminded of the time, several years ago when I interviewed the
singer Enzo Stuarti and subsequently featured him in a two-part two
hour special on his life and career when I was producing a weekly PBS
radio program about classical voice which emanated from WETS-FM on the
campus of East Tennessee State University. In all events, at a certain
point I asked Enzo if Mario Lanza had been an influence in his career.
I expected to hear him answer in the affirmative and perhaps mention
what a great voice Lanza had. Instead though his answer was this - and
I've not forgotten it all these years: "Oh definitely, definitely. In
fact, his voice was so close to mine people used to mistake it." Now
Enzo was a very kind and gracious man to me the day of our interview,
even if he did blow his own horn sometimes at deafining levels. But to
make a statement that his voice, albeit a fine and powerful nightclub
voice with Italiante overtones - though I think personally he lacked
any kind of finese, musical empathy and emotional invenstment in what
he sang (he was, in essence in love with his own voice, just my
opinion, and it was not love of the musical facets, finese or elements
that existed there but rather the sound he could produce. Listen to
'That Wondeful Girl of Mine" from his STUARTI ARRIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL.
This record was , in reality, a 'papered audience' and that is an old
broadway expresspion that means the majority of the audience were
"comps" or free and done the fill the house. The concert was recorded
for Jubilee Records and sold moderately well. It got Enzo into venues
like The Bue Room and on the Tonight Show, but I always felt the
shadow of Mario Lanza cast over him daily. It's a curious study and
perhaps I am all wrong. But I know and believe this with all my heart:
Mario Lanza was a miracle, a once in a life time star that shown so
bright that it blinded some, corrupted some, inspired and left some in
complete awe. Never on earth had they seen or HEARD such greatness -
nor were they to again.

Tony Partington
Minneapolis, Minnesota (2011)


1530–40; < Latin parasītus < Greek parásītos one who eats at
another's table, orig. adj.: feeding beside, equivalent to para-
para-1 + sît ( os ) grain, food + -os adj. suffix

2. sycophant, toady, leech, sponge, hanger-on.


Oct 8, 2013, 10:24:44 PM10/8/13

As the notoriously anti-Lanza Time magazine reported in the early 60s, Mario Lanza had a voice of genuine operatic dimensions. Stuarti has a voice of cocktails-and dancing dimensions

Derek McGovern

Feb 22, 2011, 10:06:56 PM2/22/11
Hi Tony: Yes, it is irritating when mediocrities try to pass themselves off as the offspring of far greater artists, and equally annoying that the media (as in the recent case of Cristian Lanza) swallows their stories. But I actually find it quite hilarious (as someone -- I forget who -- pointed out recently) that none of the bogus Lanza kin has ever not been a tenor. Why do we never hear from sopranos or baritones claiming to be Mario Lanza's long-lost child or grandchild?!


Tony Partington

Feb 22, 2011, 11:19:42 PM2/22/11
Or perhaps even more interesting and amusing: a COUNTER-TENOR.  Conjures up a whole new vision (and sound) for "Be My Love" and "Because You're Mine" eh?

Tony Partington

Feb 23, 2011, 7:04:05 AM2/23/11
Found this in a google search.
Boy those folks down in South Philly sure can get hot under the collar!  What a joke all of this is and how sad.

Tony Partington

Feb 23, 2011, 12:49:31 PM2/23/11
For those folks on the forum following this thread and possibly interested in exploring further this interesting, though rather odd (to say the least) tendancy certain mediocre performers have had, down through the years, here's a link to the Time magazine article that Armando referenced earlier regarding Enzo Stuarti.  It's rather interesting as it focuses on the comparison of Stuarti, and by implication, other singers to Mario.  Now as we all know, comparisons are odious, and I would go so far as to say most especially odious when it comes to comparisons to Mario Lanza.  I'll go out on a limb here and speak for the forum en masse and say that "When they made Mario Lanza, they broke the mold."  It's over fifty-one years since his passing and we, the music loving public, have yet to hear or see anything close to that musical miracle from South Philadelphia.  That includes the singers "Victor Lanza" and "Cristian Lanza."  One thing did occur to me though as I was writing this post.  It might be fun for Victor and Cristian to get together for lunch sometime and talk over old times with Mario that never happened.
Ciao - Tony 


Feb 23, 2011, 2:55:50 PM2/23/11
Is Leornado Lamare the same guy pretending he was Mario's son?

Tony Partington

Feb 23, 2011, 8:57:22 PM2/23/11
Joe - I think this pretty much answers your question:
Incidently, the clip of "Victor" or "Leonardo" or whoever the hell the guy is is a pretty bad lip-sync job.  So to be really honest with you, I'm not even sure the guy can sing a note.  Is there anyone on the forum who has actually heard this clown?

Oct 8, 2013, 5:05:33 AM10/8/13

Actually, I was a bartender back in the 70/80's and was there "when" Victor had just arrived from (CA, as I recall) and was having a cocktail at the custom-made traveling piano bar with  the Technics organ built into it, manned by my dear friend - the very talented Don Komar. His genre included personal favorite top hits of the 30/40's and had a roving group of regular singers who performed many of the same - Don ran a very controlled evening production, not at all like other piano bars.
One night, a newcomer came in, and sat very quietly and listened with rapt attention to all of the talented regulars - while he nursed a cocktail or two.
After a while, he spoke to Don and said "I see that you allow people to sing, would you mind if I tried it?"  Don, being a little cocky said "sure, if you can sing - what were you thinking of?" The newcomer softly said "Osole Mio in the key of G" - and I saw Don's eyebrows go up, and with a little smirk, said "okay". Well, this man got up to the mike (the performers always took their place - no mike was ever passed at this piano bar) and blew everybody away! I mean, the whole room stopped - he brought the house down. Then, took one last sip of his drink - and headed out the door. Don got up from the bench, and chased after him - they talked a bit. When Don returned to his group of regulars, he related the conversation. The gentleman had introduced himself as "Victor ____" - but Don recognized the last name, and knew that it was the name of Mario Lanza's illicit lover and had come right out and asked the man who had also explained that he was new in town, and was there because of work. Don had extracted a promise that Victor would come in the next night that Don was working, later in the week.

By that time, the story had circulated - and we had a much larger than usual crowd. Victor was a laid-back, unassuming, and very gentle man who had a voice that was just beautiful! He also seemed to enjoy himself - and when asked, agreed to come in again the next week. He was then hired to work with Don regularly. He used to stroll through the dining room with his violin prior to the entertainment starting at the piano bar later in the bar. As I recall, Victor also joined him there and serenaded the dining room as well.

The thing that I recall, in particular, was one night when Victor came in still fairly early while the TV was on - which was at the end of the bar.
Victor was standing there as we were chatting, and on the TV behind him - the movie "The Great Caruso" was playing.
I looked up at the screen, and back at Victor - both men were about the same age it seemed...and they could almost have been twins!!!

Later, a friend of mine named Jerry Traxler recruited Victor for his annual musical revue that he called "Jerry Traxler's Choral Dynamics" that was held at Libertyville HS (which tickets were sold for) and Victor and his natural talent stepped foot outside of Positano's for the first time. The rest is history.

Having personally been there, seeing and hearing what I did - there is no doubt in my mind that Victor was in fact...Mario's son.
Furthermore, I can assure you that at every step of the road - it was a matter of pushing and prodding to get Victor to share his natural gifts with the world. It was definitely NOT ever anything that he had pursued or intended to do. He was a naturally shy man, very happy in his chosen profession, and certainly not seeking fortune, fame, or notoriety.


Derek McGovern

Oct 8, 2013, 9:48:00 PM10/8/13
to The Mario Lanza Forum
I don't know who wrote the above post---it wasn't from a member of this forum---but I understand that "Victor Lanza" no longer claims to be Mario Lanza's son, and now goes by the name of Leonardo Lamare.

The only biographer who has ever claimed that Mario Lanza and Maria Margelli were lovers is Roland Bessette (in his book Mario Lanza: Tenor in Exile), and he offers no substantiation whatsoever for his assertion that the two had "a brief but intense fling" in late 1942. Bessette also plays down the age difference between the two, describing Margelli as "somewhat older"---when in fact she was nineteen years older than Lanza, and the same age as his mother. 

For her part, Margelli was contemptuous of claims that they had ever been lovers---and she continued to pour scorn on the suggestion long after Lanza's death. Certainly, Lanza's April 1943 letter to Margelli, which can be read here, is not the writing of a smitten youth. Nor is Margelli's observation, in a 1944 letter to a third party, that she had "been like a mother to [Lanza]" the pronouncement of a lover.   

But not even Bessette claims that Lanza and Margelli had a child together. In fact, the idea that the then-42-year-old Margelli secretly gave birth in 1944 to their lovechild, "Victor"---a son so devoted to his mother that he claimed she was still alive and in contact with him in 1991, when she had been dead for 17 years!---is just plain ridiculous, as both these articles make clear:

And if anyone's curious to see what "Victor" looks and sounds like, here's a clip of him singing Golden Days and the Student Prince Serenade: 


Oct 9, 2013, 3:08:16 PM10/9/13

I wrote "the above". I am a living, breathing human being who shared MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. Accept, or reject - your choice.

Derek McGovern

Oct 10, 2013, 2:27:14 AM10/10/13
Hi: I accept that you believed Victor Lanza to be Mario Lanza's son. What I don't believe is Victor's own claims, which have been shown to be complete hogwash. The fact that he could not even get his alleged mother's age right (he claimed Margelli was 26 when he was born, when in fact she was 42), let alone realize that she had already been dead for many years at the time when he was claiming to be still in contact with her, should have raised a red flag. That he also refused to take a DNA test speaks volumes.

I also can't see any similarity to Mario Lanza in either his looks or his voice. (Though I'll grant you that Victor went to some lengths to affect a similar hairstyle and even shape his eyebrows in the same way as his "father." See the 1985 photo below.) I simply see and hear an Italianate man with a half-baked talent for mimicry. For that matter, I see no facial resemblance to his alleged mother, Maria Margelli (see below). In fact, if anything, she looks more like Mario Lanza than Victor! Incidentally, Margelli was good friends with Lanza's parents in the 1960s, and certainly never told them that they had an additional grandson :)

It's not every day that I agree with Derek Mannering, but he's bang on the money when he writes in Singing to the Gods that Victor Lanza aka Leonardo Lamare's illegitimate son "allegation . . . not only sullied Lanza's name but Maria's, too. By all accounts she was a gentle soul whose memory deserved a better eulogy." 


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