Temptation/Lygia single

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rxxre eves

Jan 3, 2022, 10:03:23 AM1/3/22
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Temptation was recorded at Radio Recorders on 29 November 1951 and initially aired on the 7 January 1952 Coke show.  Lygia was recorded at Radio Recorders on 16 December 1951 and initially aired on the 21 January 1952 Coke show.  They were released on a single late January 1952.
If these facts are correct this means they were the first Coke show recordings to be released by RCA and well before those issued on the B side of The Student Prince LP.  The reason for the use of Coke show recordings on that album (and subsequent albums) was related to the legal wranglings Mario was having with MGM.  But why did RCA issue the  January 1952 single - and so soon after recording?  Did he record the 2 songs at Radio Recorders knowing they would be issued?  If so, why?

Derek McGovern

Jan 4, 2022, 12:51:59 AM1/4/22
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi: Yes, the release of the Lygia/Temptation single in January 1952 was the first Coke offering from RCA. I presume the company rushed the single out in an attempt to capitalize on the great popularity of Quo Vadis (which, of course, featured the "Lygia" theme). Mario recorded "Lygia" only five weeks after the release of Quo Vadis, and it would have been obvious by then that the film was going to be a box office smash. 

Another Coke coupling (and a great one at that) was the 45rpm release of Some Day/ Sylvia in, I believe, 1953. There was also an equally well-chosen Begin the Beguine / Night and Day 45rpm coupling, but I'm not sure if its release preceded the 1954 Student Prince LP.  It may have been released as advance promotion for the all-Coke A Kiss and Other Love Songs, which came out in most countries in 1955.   

rxxre eves

Jan 7, 2022, 8:39:48 AM1/7/22
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Derek.  Thanks for your reply.  Given your highlighting of the Qua Vadis movie timing I'm guessing Mario must have known at time of recording Lygia at Radio Recorders that it was earmarked for single release.  I wonder why they didn't do it at Republic?  Of course, there was no reason not to use a recording also destined for the Coke Shows for a record release.  But at the time it was without precedence as far as Mario Lanza was concerned.  But - hey - there has to be a first!

I'd completely forgotten about  the Some Day / Sylvia single.  But I don't think I was ever aware of Begin The Beguine / Night And Day.  How sure are you that was actually released as a single?  The tracks were included on a double EP in 1954.
I've often felt frustrated that there doesn't appear to be a comprehensive list of Mario's record releases (i'm talking about USA releases).  I've scrutinised the web and can find nothing.  Given the magnitude of the man as a recording star it is, perhaps, a tad surprising.  One specific example to illustrate this: nowhere can I find that the 2 Chenier arias he recorded in May 1950 were ever released in the USA on a single, EP or LP during his lifetime.  They don't even appear on a list of UK releases yet I know for sure they were on a 12" 78rpm HMV single because I had a copy!

Derek McGovern

Jan 7, 2022, 9:30:35 AM1/7/22
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi: My theory is that "Lygia" wasn't earmarked as a single when Mario recorded it, but that shortly afterwards either he or someone associated with that recording session (e.g. Sam Weiler, Ray Sinatra) urged RCA to release it. Of course, it's equally possible that RCA simply wanted to save a few bucks by having Mario record it at a Coke Show session and then make a decision afterwards as to whether it was singleworthy or not.

Incidentally, it's interesting that at the same session Mario also recorded "Begin the Beguine," but that rendition was rejected. He would go to re-record it a month later. Thank God he didn't settle for a substandard take, as so often happened on those shows.

As for the Begin the Beguine / Night and Day single, there's some info about it here: https://www.discogs.com/release/9593443-Mario-Lanza-Begin-The-Beguine-Night-And-Day

I have no idea what year the two Chenier arias (along with two Rigoletto arias) were released as an EP (Mario Lanza in Opera) in the US, but I"ve always assumed from the cover that it was during the 1950s. According to this information, the EP was first released in Italy in 1957, so I assume that it came out in the US around the same time if not before: 

But I would imagine that the flip side of the original 78rpm released in the US of "Un di' all'azzurro spazio" was the other Chenier aria: "Come un bel di' di maggio." (That 78rpm was mentioned in glowing terms in a 1967 review of the LP ML Sings His Favorite Arias.)  Of course, for almost five decades the "Come un bel di'" was always---inexplicably---the rarest of all Mario's RCA operatic recordings, as it never appeared on any LP release in the US or the UK (only RCA Italiana released it, as far as I know, and that was many years after Mario's death). Mind you, the great Improvviso recording was almost as rare!  Two examples of idiocy on the part of RCA.      


Ray Reeves

Jan 7, 2022, 10:59:52 AM1/7/22
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Derek

Once again thanks for your reply.  I think I'll go along with your theory about the release of Lygia.  If only because to me it makes more sense and I have a tidy mind!

I checked out the website reference on discogs about Begin The Beguine / Night And Day.  The US release is numbered 447-0772.  If there is any sense at all about RCA's numbering sequence this puts it as a mid-60s release.

The 2 RCA recorded Chenier arias were released on a German RCA LP.  I had a copy, long since gone.  I've no idea about the release date but I think (trying to remember what the sleeve was like) that it was pre 1970.

Thanks for the reminder about ERA 110.  That did jog my memory - I had clean forgotten about it.

But I still can't find any reference to the RCA US release of  the two tracks as single release.

Happy New Year


From: mario...@googlegroups.com <mario...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Derek McGovern <derek.m...@gmail.com>
Sent: 07 January 2022 14:30
To: Mario Lanza, Tenor <mario...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: [Mario Lanza] Re: Temptation/Lygia single
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Derek McGovern

Jan 7, 2022, 8:17:45 PM1/7/22
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Ray: According to this fairly comprehensive listing, the Begin the Beguine / Night and Day single (with the latter song as Side A) was released in 1957:

It's an interesting resource, as you can change the settings for countries/78rpm/vinyl, etc, and also click on the records themselves. I was certainly surprised by some of the releases---for example, an EP with the Otello duet "Dio ti giocondi" on one side, and Lamento di Federico/Di Quella Pira/My Destiny on the other. It was also interesting to see that "Funiculi' Funicula" and "Maria Mari'" were released together as a single, and that the coupling of "Come Prima / O Sole Mio" was (apparently) released as early as December 1958, eight months before the premiere of For the First Time in the US. But it doesn't include all of Mario's releases, and I can find no mention of the Chenier arias as a single in either 45rpm or 78rpm. 

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