Discussion on Confounding the Enemy: Lanza's triumphant return to the Shower of Stars

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Vince Di Placido

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Dec 31, 2014, 4:51:44 AM12/31/14
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What a fantastic piece of writing, it was so evocative that it made me go & watch the clip again straight away. Mario was indeed heroic that night! When I first saw this clip it mad me feel so proud of Mario!

Joe Fagan

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Oct 14, 2007, 11:44:42 AM10/14/07
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I agree: It is one of dear Derek's best and he really "nails it"

Joe Fagan

Derek McGovern

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Dec 31, 2014, 5:00:38 AM12/31/14
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Thanks, guys. It was actually a very easy piece to write: watching Mario's performance was all the inspiration I needed!


There are a couple of things I didn't mention in the essay, by the way. One is that although we're used to watching this performance on a poor quality black-and-white (pre-video) kinescope, it was actually broadcast in colour! Oh, to have experienced this performance in pristine sound and vision!

The other thing is that noted critic Max De Schauensee - himself a former tenor - supposedly gave Mario a rave review for this performance. This story first surfaced in Terry Robinson's 1980 book. Now I'd love to get my hands on that review, especially since it was the same critic who was fairly tough on Lanza in his review of his Philadelphia Academy of Music recital three years earlier.

I wish we knew what newspaper De Schauensee's Shower of Stars review appeared in!

By the way, the photo credits for this essay should go to Vince, whose video captures have enhanced quite a few essays on these pages. Mille grazie, Vincenzo!


lamuriella

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Dec 31, 2014, 5:03:31 AM12/31/14
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What is most touching to me about this essay is: Derek seemed to get
into Mario's state of mind as he sang Some Day and E Lucevan le
Stelle. It's almost as if we are experiencing Mario's exact thoughts.
Actually seeing Mario as he sang that night, is so much more effective
than listening to a recording.  Bravo, Caro Derek!

As we know, Mario gave a private concert for the press after his first
SOS Show. Here's the paragraph from the Robinson book which references
Max de Schanensee: "When the free concert was over the critics went
away convinced the mistake had been theirs, not Lanza's. Chrysler and
CBS were delighted and Mario was brought back for another show, at the
same salary and bonus-$40,000 and two new Chryslers. What was more
important to him, Max de Schanensee, one of the top critics in the
world, wrote a rave review of his performance. The review he clipped
and pasted into his scrapbook. The automobiles he gave away to
business associates."

Does this scrapbook still exist in one of the *unopened* boxes we hear
about so often? Armando, did you ever see any scrapbook(s) at Damon's
house when you were there researching Mario's bio? Too bad Robinson
doesn't include that review in his book. Armando's book is full of
reviews and this omission only underscores the huge difference between
these books.  In fact, when I was up at the Lanza museum this past
week, I answered a visitor's question re: which biography is the best.
I picked up Armando's book and told him, "Without question, this is
the one you want!" .

Ciao from Muriel

Derek McGovern

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Oct 15, 2007, 1:26:17 AM10/15/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Thanks, Muriella! Next year I plan to write a follow-up essay on
Mario's televised London Palladium performance as well. Another gem of
a mini-concert!

As for the Max De Schauensee review, yes, I too have always wondered
about that scrapbook that Mario apparently kept it in. The story does
ring true - even though Robinson misspells De Schauensee's name :-)

Incidentally, does anyone know when De Schauensee died? I know he was
still writing reviews in the mid-1970s.

I think I've fixed that Toast "chandeliers" photo for you!

Lou Abada

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Oct 15, 2007, 4:47:03 AM10/15/07
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Max de Schauensee was classical music critic of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin at that time, so most likely the review appeared in that paper. He died July 24, 1982 according to this link:
 

http://musicsack.com/PersonFMTDetail.cfm?PersonPK=100128171

 

I hope this helps.
 
Best
Lou

----- Original Message ----
From: Derek McGovern <derek.m...@gmail.com>
To: "Mario Lanza, tenor" <mario...@googlegroups.com>


Tonight's top picks. What will you watch tonight? Preview the hottest shows on Yahoo! TV.

Derek McGovern

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Dec 31, 2014, 4:41:33 AM12/31/14
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Thanks, Lou: you're a fund of information! And welcome to this site!

-Derek

Derek McGovern

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Dec 31, 2014, 4:41:58 AM12/31/14
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A second thought occurs, Lou: since old Max was still alive when Terry
Robinson published his book in 1980, then the story of the De
Schauensee Shower of Stars "rave review" must in all likelihood be
true. I just wish I could read it; I wonder if it was in the
Philadeplphia Evening Bulletin of around October 29, 1954? (There's a
task for you next time you're in Philly, Muriella :-))


lamuriella

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Dec 31, 2014, 5:03:01 AM12/31/14
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Oooooh! A most delightful task, indeed, and, luckily, I'll be in
Philly in November for the Ball. Gee, it seems I copied Mr.
Schauensee's misspelled name from the Robinson book. Shame on me! My
apologies... I googled the Bulletin and it seems their archives are
contained in the Temple University Library. Let me do some prior
investigating to see what info I can discover. I also have the
newspaper's current address - not too difficult to find.

Derek, I am ecstatic to know you plan to write an essay about Mario's
Palladium performance! That's the best news I've had in a very long
time.

Ciao for now...Muriella

Armando

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Oct 15, 2007, 8:16:58 PM10/15/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Ciao Muriel, I just replied in answer to your query about the
scrapbooks, but I pressed reply to author instead of reply, so would
you please post what I wrote to save me writing it again? Grazie,
Armando

> A question: Where can I source Vince's pictures? I'd like to download
> them onto my computer........
>
> A problem: I cannot view the TONO chandelier photo on this site. I
> have no problem with the others....
>
> Ciao from Muriel


>
> On Oct 14, 2:17 pm, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Thanks, guys. It was actually a very easy piece to write: watching
> > Mario's performance was all the inspiration I needed!
>
> > There are a couple of things I didn't mention in the essay, by the
> > way. One is that although we're used to watching this performance on a
> > poor quality black-and-white (pre-video) kinescope, it was actually
> > broadcast in colour! Oh, to have experienced this performance in
> > pristine sound and vision!
>
> > The other thing is that noted critic Max De Schauensee - himself a
> > former tenor - supposedly gave Mario a rave review for this
> > performance. This story first surfaced in Terry Robinson's 1980 book.
> > Now I'd love to get my hands on that review, especially since it was

> > the same critic who was fairly tough on Lanza in his review of Mario's
> > Philadeplhia Academy of Music recital three years earlier.


>
> > I wish we knew what newspaper De Schauensee's Shower of Stars review
> > appeared in!
>
> > By the way, the photo credits for this essay should go to Vince, whose

> > video captures have enhanced quite a few essays on these pages (check
> > out my film review of Serenade for an example!). Mille grazie,
> > Vincenzo!

lamuriella

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Oct 15, 2007, 8:53:45 PM10/15/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor

(Here's Armando's reply):

Ciao Muriel,

About the scrapbooks, they certainly exist! They are huge, measuring
something like 3x2 feet and, from memory, I think there's about four
or five but there may be more. The first time I saw them was back in
1972 when Mario's.father put them at my disposal.
I went through them extensively again in !977 when Colleen made them
available to me.The last time I checked them,albeit briefly, was in
2002 , but I don't recall seeing the De Schauensee review, of course I
may have missed it

> > > Vincenzo!- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

lamuriella

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Oct 15, 2007, 10:01:29 PM10/15/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Thanks, Armando. I'm impressed that the books were so large. Oh, how
I'd love to peek at just a few of those pages...sigh It would be a
generous gift to the museum, don't you think? Then - there's that
Serenade script we've been tormented with as well........

> > - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -

Muriel

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Dec 31, 2014, 4:43:19 AM12/31/14
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Indeed, the story of de Schauensee's review is true, and it turns out
that it is as wonderful as we were told it was. Derek was correct in
guessing it appeared in the Friday, October 29,1954, edition of the
old Philadelphia Evening Bulletin newspaper. In going over the
microfiche of that week's pages of the Bulletin, I also found an ad on
the entertainment page of Thursday, October 28, 1954, telling of the
show that night. It was quite large and showed pictures of the guests
scheduled to appear. Under Mario's picture, it says, "Special guest
star, Mario Lanza". I didn't know the show was televised in both color
and black and white, but it mentions that too. I doubt many people
owned color sets at that time...but, I digress..

Here's Max de Schauensee's review of Mario's performance that October
28th:

LANZA'S VOICE----IT'S AS GOOD AS EVER

Is Mario Lanza still good? What is the condition of his voice after
such a long layoff? These were questions that undoubtedly dwelt
uppermost in the minds of both his admirers and his detracters, as he
appeared, the singing star of the hour-long television show, "Shower
of Stars", which took place before a "live" audience in Hollywood last
night.

Lanza shared billing with Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Gene Nelson,
Sheree North and others, but for many, the seven minutes during which
he occupied the spotlight, were the highlight of the evening.

After an impressive announcement, "And now, this is the voice you have
all been waiting to hear," the heavy curtains parted and Mario Lanza,
bulky and looking rather tense, rubbed his hands nervously together,
as the "E lucevan le stelle" from Puccini's "Tosca" was announced.

The familiar gestures, which would probably look meaningless, if
attempted by any other singer, the absorption and intensity Lanza fans
have come to expect, were once more present, and - best of all - the
Lanza voice soared over the airways with all its remembered richness
and power, and perhaps a bit more besides.

It is a pleasure to report this, for whatever one may say about Lanza
critically, after certain crudities and exaggerations have been
acknowledged, one is forced to the conclusion that here is a natural-
born singer with a flair and a power of communication that can stir
and fascinate, and a voice that can only be looked upon as a great
gift.

When Lanza sings an aria, such as the one from "Tosca", he is
apparently completely convinced by what he is doing, and it is this
enveloping conviction, which Caruso, Chaliapin and other great artists
have also possessed, that finally wins and thrills those who listen.

The tenor - who looked in pretty good physical shape and wore a black
suit and flowing artist's tie - added the charming song, "Someday"
from "The Vagabond King", which he presented with a lavish embroidery
of his own very personal touches.

Lanza is an individual - we have read a great deal about all this - an
individual artist, who has a way of doing things that is completely
distinctive.

Whether people approve of this talented singer or not, the fact
remains that he commands and receives attention as a vocalist. This is
one of the most precious attributes a singer can possess.
_____________________________________

Great, eh?

My pleasure to have found this little masterpiece among the barbs from
other "critics" of the day.

Love to all, Muriel

Joe Fagan

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Dec 31, 2014, 5:22:11 AM12/31/14
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wow, in addition to all your other wonderful traits~~~you are a great
detective also! Good job!  This article simply reinforces Derek's great
essay on same ( my favorite!). Everyone should take a few minutes and read
"confounding the enemy" and THEN review the video clip!

Derek McGovern

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Dec 31, 2014, 4:42:55 AM12/31/14
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Muriella: I can't thank you enough for tracking down this important
review. It ranks alongside some of the great reviews that Lanza
received during his Bel Canto Trio days in 1947-48 from the likes of
Claudia Cassidy. And like Cassidy, Max de Schauensee was a tough but
highly respected critic. Having been a successful tenor himself, he
knew what he was talking about. This review could not have come at a
more opportune time in Lanza's life - he was being assailed in all
directions by music critics, Time Magazine, and the tabloid press
alike - and it must have meant an enormous amount to him to read such
encouraging praise. No wonder he pasted this review in his scrapbook!

It's interesting that de Schauensee is even more enthusiastic here
than he was in his review of Lanza's recital at the Philadelphia
Academy of Music three years earlier. He uses phrases such as "great
gift" - which he had previously only implied rather than stated - and
he keeps bringing up the word "artist", even to the point of inviting
favourable comparisons between Mario and Caruso and Chaliapin in terms
of "enveloping conviction". Brilliant! It's interesting too that he
picks up on the fact that, if anything, Lanza is in better shape
vocally than he was before: "the


Lanza voice soared over the airways with all its remembered richness
and power, and perhaps a bit more besides."

Thanks again, Muriella, for this wonderful find!

Muriel

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Dec 31, 2014, 5:22:36 AM12/31/14
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Thanks, Joe and Derek. I was lucky to be in the right place at the
right time and it was an easy assignment to carry out. Of all the
critics, I must say that I am moved by Claudia Cassidy's reviews the
most, but this one is very touching coming from this particular writer
at this particular time in Mario's professional life. He certainly
needed someone of note to validate his performance that night. I find
I keep going back to this paragraph which I find especially moving:

It is a pleasure to report this, for whatever one may say about Lanza
critically, after certain crudities and exaggerations have been
acknowledged, one is forced to the conclusion that here is a natural-
born singer with a flair and a power of communication that can stir
and fascinate, and a voice that can only be looked upon as a great
gift.

Mr. de Schauensee was "pleased" to be able to truthfully acknowledge
such a marvelous talent. No artist can fake the "power of
communication that can stir and fascinate", and we certainly know
firsthand Mario's ability to do just that. The very fact that we're
here spending time expressing our admiration for his work illustrates
this power superbly.

Ciao, Muriel

Derek McGovern

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Oct 18, 2008, 1:20:36 AM10/18/08
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(Please note: the following post is by Maria Luísa, not me: Derek.
I've simply moved it to its correct thread. My reply will follow
below.)

Oct 14, 1:34 pm
Derek: in one of your posts you called our attention upon your essay
"A Radical Ressessment" and I went to re-read it right away. From
there I went to re-read
"Confounding The Enemy", which you also mentioned. It was most
gratifying to return to these two texts, it was as if I was reading
them for the first time. Exceptionally well written from beginning to
end (I already told you this sometime ago). It is a delight to read
such beautiful things about that dear man.

Well, at a certain point you wrote a curious and very accurate phrase,
(Mario) "shaping the exquisite words with his hands". I have been
thinking about this since then. That's
exactly it. I do not know of a more perfect classification to better
symbolize what the expressive movement of his hands meant to his
adoring public. Mario shaped the words with his hands, simultaneously
caressing them with his satin voice and with such sentiment that the
public to which he delivered them 'wrapped' in passion and sincerity
understood him perfectly accepted with emotion and, as been said,
frequently with
tears in their eyes and acknowledged most obliged.

I have been thinking for some time that very few people ever talked or
wrote about this singular characteristic that no other tenor but Mario
possessed.

Maybe some tenors did, but not with the expressiveness and uniqueness
that Mario did. I have read in magazines and also in Youtube, a few
critiques that ridiculed this important (although it may not seem) and
lovely facet of Mario.

Yes, I totally agree: Mario did shape beautifully the words with his
hands while singing. Come to think of it, the only little criticism,
if such, that I may point out in the otherwise Edmund Purdom's perfect
acting in The Student Prince is his not holding his hands while
singing the way Mario always did and would have done had he performed
that film. But then Mr. Purdom probably thought and wisely too that
that 'small' detail was impossible to imitate, it would have just
seemed false in any other actor but Mario.

The truth of the matter is that even in this apparently unimportant
particular, Mario Lanza was inimitable.

--Maria Luísa

Derek McGovern

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Oct 18, 2008, 1:55:30 AM10/18/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Maria Luísa: Yes, I agree that Lanza used his hands very
beautifully on the Shower of Stars Show. He was renowned for this: in
fact, even Queen Elizabeth II commented approvingly on his "very
expressive" hands when she met him immediately after his Royal Variety
Show appearance in 1957. I've seen other great singers in concert and
recital, and I've often been disappointed by the fact that many of
them didn't use their hands at all; they just left their arms dangling
by their sides!

I would say, though, that the Mario Lanza we see in his films uses his
hands a lot more than he generally did in his live appearances.
Various people I've met who attended some of Mario's 1958 recitals in
the United Kingdom commented on this. His gestures were never
exaggerated, they said, and were used sparingly -- but to great
effect. Proof of this can be seen in his London Palladium appearance
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErbptU_CEmc), where he's more
restrained than he is on the Shower of Stars Show and in most of his
on-screen singing. He's just as effective, though, in involving the
audience through his gestures with the words that he's singing.

Joe Fagan

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Oct 18, 2008, 10:36:43 AM10/18/08
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Didn't the QEII also comment on the size of Mario's voice...something like I
never thought such volume could be produced by a human being.....I often
think of her quote ( exact wording escapes me right now) when I read about
these know-nothing quacks who claim Mario had a small voice. What better
witness than the Queen of England? !!
----- Original Message -----
From: "Derek McGovern" <derek.m...@gmail.com>

Maria Luísa

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Oct 18, 2008, 11:30:13 AM10/18/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
I agree totally with you Derek. One fault I find in some tenors is
that they do not use their hands when singing, some even do not move
them at all and they do not even imagine how much that takes away
brilliance off their performances. Why this little detail is almost as
important as the acting itself, it certainly would add so much more
meaning to it, I think. Queen Elizabeth was right, his expressing
hands said it all. After reading your lines I went to watch L.P.
performance which I already did dozens of times. Again there's
wonderful Mario in action: his gorgeous voice, his very personal body
movements, his lovely expressing hands. You are right, is true he did
not move them so much, I have the impression that was because he was
singing before a British audience may be, a more reserved people this
one is although I do not think they would mind that one bit, they
loved him. Still, he did extremely well. What I find in Mario's face
though, always did watching these London Shows, is a sort of sadness
and I believe some pain also, either physically or spiritually, on his
beautiful face. After all I trust he was not feeling very well health-
wise in December of 1957 Does anyone see this as well? Thanks Derek.

Just a note Derek. I still am not capable of listening to Heindorf's
interview, it simply does not work. The same happens to 1948's Mario's
Lamento and Vesti (perhaps the two most magnificent arias Mario ever
sang) you opportunely called our attention upon which I would so much
loved to listen to, but never mind I will keep trying until I hear
them, I suppose the problem must reside in our system here.
Message has been deleted
Message has been deleted
Message has been deleted

Lou

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Oct 20, 2008, 12:38:32 PM10/20/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Derek and Maria Luisa: I, too, can't think of tenors who used
their
hands as eloquently as Mario Lanza did, if they used them at all. The
iconic French singer Edith Piaf, however, was also renowned for her
marvelously expressive hands. Here's a video clip from a live
performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-zTju5zWe8&NR=1

A film critic (his name escapes me at the moment), who struck me as a
Piaf admirer, comments in his review of Piaf's biopic, La Vie en
Rose,
that the singer choreographed her hands and fingers. I take that to
mean that her gestures were not really completely spontaneous. I
wonder whether Lanza also preplanned his hand movements to some
extent, thus accounting for their relative restraint in his London
Palladium performance vis-a-vis the Shower of Stars Show.

Derek McGovern

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Oct 20, 2008, 5:00:22 PM10/20/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Lou: I enjoyed that clip of Edith Piaf; thanks for the link. (It's
not actually a live performance, by the way; she's lip-synching to her
commercial recording.) Although her gestures seemed quite rehearsed to
me, I thought they were very effective.

Maria Luísa

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Oct 21, 2008, 12:43:14 PM10/21/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
I agree with you Lou. In fact Piaf - a very expressive and talented
singer - used her hands. So did and do many Spanish singers and
Italians' and some French too, as all Latins, singers or no singers,
even to speak they do that a lot. But what I meant exactly were tenors
in this particular. Very few do that and when they do they are not
very expressive and certainly not as beautifully and graciously as
Mario did and was, not one as far as I can remember. Even wonderful
Carreras (and in part also Pavarotti), who uses his hands when
singing, in my opinion missed quite some in this.

Derek McGovern

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Dec 31, 2014, 4:54:20 AM12/31/14
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Thanks for this beautiful post, Muriella. Coincidentally, I was
thinking of that very person ("Gloria B.") myself recently, and
wondering yet again if he/she was for real. I certainly had my doubts
at times, as her need to hide behind a pseudonym (among other things)
made no sense to me. But I'd like to believe that she was telling the
truth, as the comments you've re-posted from her are interesting and
touching.

Actually, Gloria B's memories of Lanza listening to his own records
reminded me of the time that a group of English fans visited him at
the Villa Badoglio in June 1959. (I think I mentioned this a few years
back.) On that occasion, an "extremely happy-looking" Lanza asked
these fans if they'd like to hear his latest LP, the "Mario!" album.
Naturally, they said "Yes", and cooed over the cover photo, agreeing
with Betty's description of it as "real yummy". (Actually, it *is* a
great cover.) But as they listened to the album -- and oh! what a
unique opportunity that would have been! -- with Mario translating the
songs for them, they became concerned by Lanza's emotional reaction to
the recordings. He seemed to lose himself completely in the songs. At
one point, he buried his head in his hands and became sobbing. This
went on for some time -- alarming the girls -- and it was only when
Betty rushed over to him that he snapped out of it, roared with
laughter, and jumped to his feet singing Funiculi' Funicula'.

I think it's safe to say that he identified completely with the lyrics
of those incredible Neapolitan songs :-)

As for Dmitri Hvorostovsky, I saw him in concert (in Seoul in 2005)
and, like you, was surprised by his lack of movement when he was
singing. But on the Russian songs, his obvious involvement in the
music was mesmerizing, and it was then that his voice and
interpretations achieved greatness. (I didn't care much for his Verdi,
though; he should stick to the Russian repertoire!)

Mike McAdam

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Dec 31, 2014, 4:54:38 AM12/31/14
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I'm glad a few of you are sidetracking a bit here to France's "little
sparrow", Edith Piaf and her hand movements while singing. In one long
scene in the recent biopic (which I have had rented out for a week and
now overdue:-) we see her singing coach berating her and making her
weep as he drills the importance of using her hands and "living" the
lyrics into her. On this biopic note, the marvellously crafted "La Vie
En Rose", aside from the astounding, oscar-winning performance of
Marion Cotillard shows a great love and respect of the subject on the
part of director Olivier Dahan. I believe that Piaf was a little
French jewel, beloved by the masses who was not that widely known
outside France. Yes, I realize she was known to a degree but wasn't
the world celluloid and recording phenomenon that Lanza was from
1949-1952. The director must have felt inspired to do a really great
and reverential job in bringing her story to the screen.He obviously
wanted to "get it right". It goes without saying that the French were
smart enough here to use Piaf's recordings (for the most part) on the
soundtrack for Mme Cotillard to lip-synch. These features, accompanied
by outstanding cinematography make this film an all-around winner!

I guess what I'm hinting at here is the sad fact that Mario has never
settled into America's musical history as a beloved icon like Piaf did
in France. I think if Lanza had been British (or had lived there in
his last years instead of in Italy) we may have had an intelligently-
crafted and widely-praised film of his life story produced by now. The
USA just has, and always has had, a surplus of talent perpetually
appearing on a conveyor belt  too tightly tied to profit margins
instead of artistic appreciation, IMHO?)
Who knows, maybe "Rings" director Peter Jackson (a life-long Lanza
fan, apparently) may produce something from 'down under' one of these
days? Er...perhaps our Antipodean friends here can drop him a few
ideas? Or, maybe we can write to Olivier Dahan and plant a seed?
Derek....two things: DO see this Piaf film and, if you deem it a
propos, do move this post to the "Off-topic" thread?
Ciao, M.

Andrew Bain

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Dec 31, 2014, 5:22:58 AM12/31/14
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I agree what "La Vie En Rose" was a fabulous film. My only reservation about it was the structure seemed a little confused at times and it was sometimes difficult to tell where we were chronologically. However it was superior to the stageplay "Piaf" which I have also seen quite recently in London which is very epeisodic in nature despite another stunning central performance.
I heard that a film of Mario's life was planned a couple of years back but I have heard nothing of it since, does anyone know about this?
I think the issue of hands is a complex and entirely personal one. To suggest that a singer can give a more emotional story through use of their hands seems wrong to me passion comes from within and is expressed outwardly in different ways depending on the performer. Hvorostovsky is a good example to use I have seen him live too and he has such a great stage presence which suits him without much hand movement. As a performer he is absolutely captivating. Stillness can be more powerful than movement in many situations. Hand "painting" of the songs worked really well for Mario because that is what came naturally to him but was not the reason for his singing dripping with emotion, it was just part of HIS overall performance.

Vince Di Placido

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Dec 31, 2014, 4:54:56 AM12/31/14
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Hi, Muriel! How are you? I hoped you liked España as much as we did
(although I got my brand new iphone & 160gb ipod stolen by a bus
driver of all people, but that's another story...)
I loved yours & Derek's posts & it is fascinating to hear that Mario
was so moved by the music & his own singing, I had some friends up for
a dinner party a couple of nights ago & I had programmed some
different artists & tracks as background music & Mario came on singing
Passione & Aoife remarked that my reaction to hearing Mario start
singing looked as though a wave of ecstasy was washing over me, I have
to admit it is a thing of beauty when I start to listen to Mario & it
is a deeply emotional & moving experience. I just hope that Mario was
moved purely because of the beauty & the emotional content of the
songs & that it was not a case of going to a dark place or being upset
over the path not taken or something like that...
As for Mario's hands & moulding words, I just love what Mario does
when he is performing, especially in his film performances. It is such
a big part of his visual performance along with great facial gestures
& flashing eyes, he really had it all. I love the scene in "7 hills of
Rome" at the talent night when each act steps forward & does a little
recap of their act & Mario steps forward & just poses with his hands!
Mario does a similar thing in his Christopher Program interview when
he explains about that moment when he steps out on stage & is about to
perform & again he poses with his hands, it was obviously such an
important thing to him.

Vince Di Placido

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Oct 23, 2008, 5:48:50 PM10/23/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi, Mike! "La Vie en Rose" was very good & Marion Cotillard was
outstanding in the role of Edith Piaf, I can understand Andrew's
problem with the narrative structure but it didn't confuse me too
much. It was just so evocative & was handled very well, it also gave a
great sense of what was so special about Edith Piaf, an absolute must
in any possible film of Mario & just like "La Vie en Rose" the
original recordings MUST be used!
> > > > audience through his gestures with the words that he's singing.- Hide quoted text -
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Maria Luísa

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Oct 23, 2008, 8:30:27 PM10/23/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
I agree absolutely with you about Piaf/Mario/British people/film. That
would have been exactly it.
Message has been deleted
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Muriel

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Oct 24, 2008, 1:23:20 PM10/24/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Derek, thanks for your response to me. I often think of the
exchange I had with "Gloria B." It took me a while to dig it out, but
I knew I had saved it. I'm convinced that she was real, as she seemed
to have spent much time with Maria, Tony and all members of the Lanza
family. It makes sense that she did not want to be identified, knowing
that people might not allow her any peace. At first I thought she knew
them in Italy only (she said she lived out of the country), but she
hinted at knowing the circumstances of Betty's not wanting any of
"hangers-on" going along to that country with them. Betty said she
and the children would not move if they were to be included. The fact
that she wrote well and did not boast in any way, makes me believe she
considered the family to be her friends. In fact I had to practically
drag that little information from her and then she disappeared again.
I assumed she returned to her home where there was no computer.

I loved reading about the time Mario's fans listened to his "Mario!"
album. It's a sweet story and shows how down to earth Mario was. I
doubt that he ever forgot his roots, especially around family and
those he trusted. There's no doubt in my mind that he quickly became
totally involved with those Neapolitan songs/lyrics and probably
relived his recording sessions as he listened. He remained "Freddie"
until the end...and that's not a bad thing.

The only regret I have is that he did not have a strong business sense
and/or advice from the start. How different things might have
been......

Ciao....
> Muriel wrote:
> > About six years ago, I had a brief exchange with a person who called
> > herself  "Gloria B." This was not her real name as she had been a
> > close friend to Mario and Betty and did not want to be identified.
> > Apparently she lived out of the country and only wrote brief notes on
> > one forum when she visited here. I tried to engage her as long as
> > possible to find out some things that only she could know. Most of her
> > posts were deleted according to her wishes, but I wrote a few notes at
> > the time and also was able to copy short passages.
>
> > I asked her how it felt to witness Mario singing in the same room. She
> > answered, "Muriel, to really explain the feeling in Mario's voice
> > would be just about impossible. When Mario sang, his eyes became so
> > expressive that it sent chills in me. If I were deaf, I would be able
> > to understand what Mario was feeling at the very moment."
>
> > I also asked if Mario knew how much his singing affected his
> > listeners. She answered, "Mario lived to sing for the people. We once
> > sat and listened to his new recording one evening. His only concern
> > was if his fans would like it. After listening to it several times,
> > Mario became teary eyed. I remember saying to Mario then, 'This should
> > answer your question as to if your fans would like it.'"
>
> > Another post by her stated, "The one thing I wish to comment on is
> > that when Mario listened to his records, (at times) he would sit
> > quietly and close his eyes and just listen. There were times that
> > tears would flow down his cheeks."
>
> > I wrote down a few notes after a post had been deleted. I recall her
> > saying that Mario's voice soothed, yet could stir deep emotions. She
> > added that he used his eyes to convey the message of the music. His
> > hands seemed to grasp the idea of the song and he would reach out to
> > communicate the idea. His facial expressions changed with each phrase.
> > I wish I had the exact words, but I think we know what she meant,
> > especially after watching Mario's second SOS Show and reading Derek's
> > moving essay.
>
> > I've attended three concerts by Dmitri Hvorostovsky and, as he sings
> > with some of the same emotion as Mario did, I watched him carefully.
> > At times he would reach out or take a step forward, but, most of the
> > time he leaned against the piano and only moved minimally. In operas,
> > some of the artists move more than others. I guess it is a personal
> > trait that dictates how a person feels comfortable expressing him or
> > herself.
>
> > That Mario succeeded in showing his emotions is certainly evident.
> > Through his music, he still soothes and excites us. His music is
> > always with us and we can draw upon the beauty when we need it the
> > most. We might have disappointments and sadnesses, but thank goodness,
> > Mario remains a constant in our lives.
> > Ciao, Muriel
> > > > > Hi Maria Lu sa: Yes, I agree that Lanza used his hands very
> > > > > beautifully on the Shower of Stars Show. He was renowned for this: in
> > > > > fact, even Queen Elizabeth II commented approvingly on his "very
> > > > > expressive" hands when she met him immediately after his Royal Variety
> > > > > Show appearance in 1957. I've seen other great singers in concert and
> > > > > recital, and I've often been disappointed by the fact that many of
> > > > > them didn't use their hands at all; they just left their arms dangling
> > > > > by their sides!
>
> > > > > I would say, though, that the Mario Lanza we see in his films uses his
> > > > > hands a lot more than he generally did in his live appearances.
> > > > > Various people I've met who attended some of Mario's 1958 recitals in
> > > > > the United Kingdom commented on this. His gestures were never
> > > > > exaggerated, they said, and were used sparingly -- but to great
> > > > > effect. Proof of this can be seen in his London Palladium appearance
> > > > > (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErbptU_CEmc), where he's more
> > > > > restrained than he is on the Shower of Stars Show and in most of his
> > > > > on-screen singing. He's just as effective, though, in involving the
> > > > > audience through his gestures with the words that he's singing.- Hide quoted text -
>
> > > - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -
Message has been deleted

Muriel

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Oct 24, 2008, 2:20:58 PM10/24/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
Hi Vince: Yes, I had a wonderful time in Spain, but it's a huge
country and I only saw the South. I'd have liked to see Barcelona (we
only changed planes there), but we enjoyed the warm weather and the
Mediterranean Sea. Sorry to hear of your unfortunate experience - so
far I've not lost anything on my trips, but know of others who did.
(I'll be returning to Ireland next June - Dingle Peninsula and
Kisdale? I'll let you know more when I can. Barb is coming again too.)

Thanks for your remarks. I can well imagine your reaction when
hearing Mario's Passione recently. It's the "Magic of Mario", don't
you know? I also hope he was moved by his own recordings because of
the pure joy of having been able to create such beauties. I agree with
others' comments that his gestures came from something unlearned -
from within himself.

You mentioned the Christopher Program when he unconsciously put his
hands out while explaining his feelings when performing "live". I
think he made a comment to the effect that when he felt the boards
solidly under his feet, he became secure in what he was about to do.
Bringing his voice to the public was probably the best experience one
could ever have. Knowing the voice was appreciated and exquisite was
perfection. To be able to use his talent to spread joy must be the
ultimate....

I'll be seeing you? (next year?) Stay tuned....Muriel

Hi Andrew: I loved Dmitri's concerts as Derek did - even without much
physical gesturing. In fact, had he tried to act like Mario, I might
have found that to be highly amusing. It simply isn't him - his
nature. To be honest, I was sitting in the front row two of those
times and I don't think he'd have appreciated my trying to suppress my
giggles. As he came on and off stage, for the various sequences, he
would glance down and give a little smile..... He's visually a
strikingly handsome man and he knows it!

Ciao, ciao!

On Oct 23, 5:35 pm, Vince Di Placido <vincent.diplac...@gmail.com>
wrote:
Message has been deleted

Derek McGovern

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Oct 24, 2008, 8:08:01 PM10/24/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
On Oct 24, 3:07 am, Mike McAdam wrote:

> I guess what I'm hinting at here is the sad fact that Mario has never
> settled into America's musical history as a beloved icon like Piaf did
> in France. I think if Lanza had been British (or had lived there in
> his last years instead of in Italy) we may have had an intelligently-
> crafted and widely-praised film of his life story produced by now. The
> USA just has, and always has had, a surplus of talent perpetually
> appearing on a conveyor belt too tightly tied to profit margins
> instead of artistic appreciation, IMHO?)

Hi Mike: I think you're right that Lanza "has never settled into
America's musical history" -- certainly not to the extent of, say, a
Sinatra or a Presley. Part of the reason, I feel, is that he simply
wasn't around long enough. Also, his career defied any conventional
classification. I've always felt that he was a fish out of water in
the conformist America of the 1950s, and that Europe was really where
he belonged. The Italians understood what made him tick far better, I
suspect, than the general American public at that time. They
understood (and probably appreciated) his temperament...his passion.

As for Mario's popularity in Britain, I think it's clear that the
Brits (certainly at that time, at least) always had a deep affection
for operatic singing stars -- particularly tenors. Look at the
popularity of Richard Tauber, for example, in Britain in the 1930s and
1940s and Joseph Schmidt in the 1930s. Both men even made films in
England. Gigli was also extremely popular there.

> Who knows, maybe "Rings" director Peter Jackson (a life-long Lanza
> fan, apparently) may produce something from 'down under' one of these
> days? Er...perhaps our Antipodean friends here can drop him a few
> ideas?

Mike: Where on earth did you hear that Peter Jackson was a life-long
Lanza fan? That's news to me!! If he is indeed a fan, then I'll
certainly start pestering him regarding a biography :-)

>Derek.... DO see this Piaf film.

I *will*, Mike! Coincidentally, it struck me this morning while
listening to Lanza's O Mon Amour that this was the one occasion on
which he sang a song made famous by Piaf! As you probably know, O Mon
Amour is actually part of the popular song Je n'En Connais Pas La Fin,
which Piaf recorded in 1939.


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Derek McGovern

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Jul 15, 2010, 3:51:12 AM7/15/10
to mario...@googlegroups.com
I've just revisited Lanza's second Shower of Stars performance, and I
marvelled once again at the beautiful singing that he delivered that
evening:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO7F8aNuqMw

This seemed as good a reason to revive this thread (our very first, I
think!), especially since it includes the highly respected Max de
Schauensee's brilliant review from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin
of October 29, 1954.

We have Muriella to thank for unearthing this review (see her earlier
posts upthread), which I think contains some of the most accurate and
moving comments ever uttered by a professional critic about Lanza:

LANZA'S VOICE----IT'S AS GOOD AS EVER

Is Mario Lanza still good? What is the condition of his voice after
such a long layoff? These were questions that undoubtedly dwelt
uppermost in the minds of both his admirers and his detractors, as he
appeared, the singing star of the hour-long television show, "Shower
of Stars", which took place before a "live" audience in Hollywood last
night.

Lanza shared billing with Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Gene Nelson,
Sheree North and others, but for many, the seven minutes during which
he occupied the spotlight, were the highlight of the evening.

After an impressive announcement, "And now, this is the voice you have
all been waiting to hear," the heavy curtains parted and Mario Lanza,
bulky and looking rather tense, rubbed his hands nervously together,
as the "E lucevan le stelle" from Puccini's "Tosca" was announced.

The familiar gestures, which would probably look meaningless, if
attempted by any other singer, the absorption and intensity Lanza fans
have come to expect, were once more present, and - best of all - the
Lanza voice soared over the airways with all its remembered richness
and power, and perhaps a bit more besides.

It is a pleasure to report this, for whatever one may say about Lanza
critically, after certain crudities and exaggerations have been
acknowledged, one is forced to the conclusion that here is a natural-
born singer with a flair and a power of communication that can stir
and fascinate, and a voice that can only be looked upon as a great
gift.

When Lanza sings an aria, such as the one from "Tosca", he is
apparently completely convinced by what he is doing, and it is this
enveloping conviction, which Caruso, Chaliapin and other great artists
have also possessed, that finally wins and thrills those who listen.

The tenor - who looked in pretty good physical shape and wore a black
suit and flowing artist's tie - added the charming song, "Someday"
from "The Vagabond King", which he presented with a lavish embroidery
of his own very personal touches.

Lanza is an individual - we have read a great deal about all this - an
individual artist, who has a way of doing things that is completely
distinctive.

Whether people approve of this talented singer or not, the fact
remains that he commands and receives attention as a vocalist. This is
one of the most precious attributes a singer can possess -- Max de Schauensee.

Derek McGovern

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Jul 15, 2010, 3:55:29 AM7/15/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
I'm just using this post to change the title of this thread, which had
become rather cumbersome. If you'd like to post on this thread, please
click on "reply" to **this** post, rather than the one above, to
prevent the title changing back again to the old one. (Hope that makes
sense!)

Mike McAdam

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Jul 15, 2010, 8:44:55 AM7/15/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Okay Derek, I'll kick it off to make sure that your "fix" works ;-))
I re-read your great essay and watched the YouTube clip again
and...yes...both in a class of their own. Bravo to you, my friend and
bravo to Mario!
Cheers, Mike

Maria Luísa

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Jul 15, 2010, 7:36:44 PM7/15/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Great singing. Look how happy, although somehow nervous, he was during
his participation, hearing and feeling that his own voice was still
grand and powerful as ever after such a long time of not singing. That
can be seen in his beautiful expression. What a slap in the face of
some evil critics that was. Congratulations to the serious critic who
wrote those honest and true words about his glorious singing.

Derek McGovern

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Jul 17, 2010, 5:54:48 AM7/17/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Maria Luísa wrote:

> Congratulations to the serious critic who
> wrote those honest and true words about his glorious singing.

One of the interesting things about de Schauensee's review is how much
less restrained he is in his praise of Lanza's *voice* and artistry
than he'd been in 1951, when he'd reviewed Mario's recital at the
Philadelphia Academy.

In his earlier review for the same newspaper, he'd described Lanza's
voice as a "fine" one of "extended range" and "straightforward"
timbre, but expressed reservations about his singing (while
acknowledging that, "There is vitality and a disarming, uncomplicated
appeal in Mr. Lanza's singing" [see Armando Cesari's book, pp.
142-143]). But in his 1954 review, de Schauensee holds nothing back,
describing "a voice that can only be looked upon as a great gift,"
using the word "artist" three times and implying favourable
comparisons with Caruso and Chaliapin, repeatedly praising Mario's
unique qualities of delivery, and ending with a paragraph that
emphasizes his right to be taken seriously as a singer.

It really is quite an extraordinary review!

I wonder what dear old Mr. de Schauensee thought of Lanza's post-1954
work -- in particular, the operatic highlights from "Serenade"? I
imagine he would have been very impressed.

leeann

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Jul 20, 2010, 2:08:26 AM7/20/10
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
This is the most amazing clip--to be able to see the Lanza's intense,
unmediated relationship with the words and music he's singing. It is
as if he steps into a different world.

De Schauensee seems to be--in this and other reviews--a critic who
likes the people and subject's he's writing about and who sees his
job as one of honest and thoughtful commentary rather than criticism
just because he can. And in this article, I also love that he points
to Lanza's vocal development when he says, the "voice soared over the
airways with all its remembered richness and power, and perhaps a bit
more besides." Lee Ann



Derek McGovern

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Dec 31, 2014, 4:50:23 AM12/31/14
to
Norma was recently asking what our first discussion was on this forum. Well, here it is: a thread started by Vince, and devoted to Lanza's triumphant return appearance on the CBS TV Show Shower of Stars on October 28, 1954. Two months ago, I had meant to acknowledge the 60th anniversary of that event, so better late than never!

There's some fantastic stuff on this two-page thread, including the first posts of many of our longest-standing members, and an important review of the Shower of Stars appearance that Muriel unearthed.  

Vincent Di Placido

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Dec 31, 2014, 12:15:41 PM12/31/14
to mario...@googlegroups.com
What a great performance by Mario, a voice of pure gold & the heart of a poet & king!

"Some day you will seek me and find me Some day of the days that shall be Surely you will come and remind me Of a dream that is calling for you and for me Some day when the winter is over Some day in the flush of the spring My soul shall discover the soul born for her lover The man with the heart of a king"

Muriel

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Oct 22, 2008, 3:00:27 PM10/22/08
to The Mario Lanza Forum
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Derek McGovern

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Aug 12, 2020, 8:55:09 AM8/12/20
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hot on the heels of his documentary on the great Mario! album, Vince Di Placido has turned to another pivotal moment in Lanza's career: his triumphant return to live performing after a three-and-a-half year absence. This is the story of the second Shower of Stars Show, which was broadcast live on October 28, 1954.

You'll definitely need some tissues handy at the end of this film, and probably throughout it. Vince has done a superb job of interweaving photos and the surviving kinescopes of both Shower of Stars performances (the infamous lip-synched one as well as the live appearance), and I'm in awe of his editing prowess. But more than that, he provides historical context, making it crystal clear what the stakes were for Mario on that second show, and makes us feel that we were there that night. 

Vince also includes quite a number of rare photos and even home rehearsals of the very arias that Mario had performed for the Press in the aftermath of the devastating media coverage of the lip-synched debacle. 

Here is the link to Vince's film Confounding the Enemy:


Enjoy!!!!    
 
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