Trivia & Curiosities

298 views
Skip to first unread message

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Jul 23, 2017, 3:01:11 PM7/23/17
to Mario Lanza, Tenor

A German Band and a Mario Lanza Song

 

Many years ago, during my numerous Web researches about Mario Lanza, I was surprised to come across a song titled “Mario Lanza – Or Was It Just Chardonnay Talking Tough.”  It is a song which was recorded by a German band from Nuremberg called “The Robocop Kraus” (RK) for their fourth studio album titled “Living With Other People” (release 2003). The five-member band with Thomas Lang as its lead singer was founded in 1998 and their music is described as a mixture of punk, soul, pop and hardcore-punk. 

RK has not only toured throughout Germany and many other European countries but also throughout the United States. Their album “Blunders and Mistakes” (2007) was recorded by Adam Lasus at the Fireproof Studios in Los Angeles.

 

Just the other day the lyrics for “Mario Lanza – Or was it Just Chardonnay Talking Tough” popped up again on the internet and I was reminded that I contacted the band in 2010 to ask them about their motivation for writing this song. Lead singer and guitarist Thomas Lang was kind enough to answer me a few questions:

 

 

Steff: How did you have the idea of recording a Mario Lanza song?

Thomas: This was because of Peter Jackson’s film “Heavenly Creatures” which is about two girls escaping in a fanciful dream world. The most important figure in it is Mario Lanza whom they idolize; he’s made of clay and brought to life by fantasy.

 


Steff: What do you know about Mario Lanza?

Thomas: I don’t know very much about Mario Lanza, but when I watched the film I was very impressed by his voice. Besides I was fascinated that he was admired like an idol, that’s something you actually only experience when it comes to pop stars.

 


Steff: What did you want to express with the lyrics of the song?

Thomas: Mario Lanza more likely is a projection surface; he stands for the search of fame and acknowledgment, of longing for “something else”, of aberration and megalomania. This probably has not much to do with the real Mario Lanza. I was rather more interested in the glory, the fictionalized biography.


 

Steff: Did anybody want to know who Mario Lanza is?

Thomas: No, we got no questions about Mario Lanza.

 



 

Below you can see the lyrics, and a sample of the studio version can be found on Amazon.


Steff

 

 

 

 

Mario Lanza

(Or Was It Just Chardonnay Talking Tough)


She was best known for fictionalizing biography

Make sense and make believe

Mario Lanza fai da me una ballerina canta me di una altra vita

fai che il giro del mondo finisce

Mario Lanza, make me a dancer or a famous writer

And I'll give interviews in magazines

And I'll ponder the world and life in general

Mario Lanza, make me a dancer, stay gold, stay gold

She was best known for fictionalizing biography

Make sense and make belief

Now was it just Chardonnay talking tough

Or are you really considering performing plastic surgery on him

Without an anaesthetic

Mario Lanza, make me a dancer

I want a life less ordinary

Everything is so far from being heavenly

Mario Lanza, make me a dancer or a famous writer

And I'll give interviews in magazines

And I'll ponder the world and life in general

Now was it just Chardonnay talking tough

Or are you really considering performing plastic surgery

On him without an anaesthetic

Was it just Chardonnay talking tough?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The band Robocop Kraus.JPG
CD cover Robocop Kraus, Living with other people.JPG

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Aug 30, 2017, 9:22:20 AM8/30/17
to mario...@googlegroups.com

“Make Believe”

Mario Lanza in a concert version of the full opera “La Bohème”

 

 

Many here might be familiar with the story which for years has been circulating on the Web and in which someone claimed that the boy who sings the “Ave Maria” with Mario Lanza in “The Great Caruso” was none other than the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Well, here’s another “make believe” story:

A while back a poster on Facebook claimed that Mario Lanza sang at the Bandshell of Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, as a “substitute tenor” in a full opera concert performance of Puccini's "La Bohème" (in the role of Rodolfo).  The event was said to have taken place at short notice since the scheduled tenor was indisposed. The man stated that he himself was a member of the chorus (a teenager at that time) in that performance.

Being curious, but understandably very sceptical (could all the Mario Lanza biographers and other experts have missed such an essential event in Mario’s career?)  I decided to contact the man trying to find out more. In our short conversation I questioned him and, as almost expected, his information turned out to be very contradictory and his memory vague. 

From what he remembered the quintessence was that

-   - the opera performance took place  in the early 1950s

-   - it was at the Bandshell concerts given free at Grant Park in Chicago

-   - it was under the auspices of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

-   - the “Chicago Tribune” Music critic, Roger Ebert, had written about it at length.

My attempts to have this man remember the names of the other singers or at least the conductor failed.

And when I told him that Roger Ebert was a film critic and not a music critic (apart from that Ebert was born in 1942, which means that in the early 1950s he was a boy of only 8 or a little bit older!) and that he probably meant Claudia Cassidy he admitted that it was her having written that comprehensive review of the alleged opera performance.

We know that Mario Lanza certainly was familiar with the opera “La Bohème” (and not only with the tenor arias!) Remember that it was in 1942, when he was a scholarship student at Tanglewood, that he sang in parts of this opera - the third act to be exact- opposite the Mexican soprano Irma Gonzales at a war benefit event at the Berkshires.

However, would Mario be able to jump in – and at short notice! - in a full opera performance?

Take into consideration that up to this time (before 1951) Lanza had appeared only four times in a complete opera - "The Merry Wives of Windsor” at Tanglewood in 1942 (twice) and "Madame Butterfly" in New Orleans in 1948 (twice). Due to Lanza’s lack of practice in performing opera it is doubtful that he would have been sufficiently prepared to sing spontaneously and at short notice in any full-opera – except maybe the two above.

And moreover, it is doubtful that his tight schedule in the early 1950s – his being fully engaged with movie filming as well as recording sessions for both RCA and the "Coke Shows"-  would have allowed him to have enough time for such an unexpected “jump in” performance.

And what about the music critic Claudia Cassidy who wrote for “The Chicago Tribune” (her “arts criticism for the Chicago Tribune made her a dominant figure in the city’s cultural scene for decades” as stated in her obituary in 1996)? She would have been the capacity to report about all of Lanza's appearances in the Chicago area.  Hard to believe she (or Albert Goldberg, another “Chicago Tribune” critic) would have missed or ignored this Bohème performance. It is for sure that Cassidy would have mentioned if Mario Lanza who already was a Hollywood star around 1950, had jumped in for another tenor (wouldn’t that have caused kind of sensation?) From the mid. 1940s Claudia Cassidy was very much familiar with Mario Lanza. In 1946/1947 she had already reviewed some of his concert performances giving him highest praise.

So, was the “Facebook man” the only person to have witnessed that mysterious performance?

Well, in doing some researches in online newspaper archives (researching the years 1946 to 1951) I came across an extensive review by Claudia Cassidy (see attachment) in “The Chicago Tribune” of a "La Bohème" concert performance at Grant Park which took place on 12 August 1950. Soprano Nancy Carr was Mimi and the tenor who sang Rodolfo was Rudolf Petrak. The orchestra was conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. A second performance took place the following night, on 13 August 1950. There is no mention of Mario Lanza at all, and no indication whatsoever of Petrak having been replaced at the second performance.

Apart from these two concert performances I could not locate any other Bohème concert performances at Grant Park, so the Facebook man’s story might be a wishful dream” or another “make believe” story (alternative facts?!) – hard to understand though.

I have to thank Paul Winberg, President of the Grant Park Music Festival who by request confirmed to me: “The only documentation we have regarding Mario Lanza’s appearance with the Grant Park Orchestra was in 1946 and 1947.

The appearances which Mister Winberg was referring to were: The concerts on 6 + 7 July 1946  with soprano Frances Yeend and Leo Kopp conducting (Kopp replacing Franco Autori who had to cancel), and the concerts on 19 + 20 July 1947  - Bel Canto Trio - Lanza, Yeend, London-  with Paul Breisach conducting).

Steff

Bohème review, Claudia Cassidy, Grant Park, Chicago, August 1950.JPG
Entertainment Calender, La Bohème in concert form, Grant Park, 13rd August 1950.JPG
Rudolf Petrak - Tenor.JPG

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Oct 10, 2017, 11:07:50 AM10/10/17
to Mario Lanza, Tenor

“Be My Love” and “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” ("Samson and Delilah")

 

 

 

Amazing what people are able to discover. It took me a while to understand and to recognize the “duplicity.” Please also have a look at the attached notes!

Steff

 

 

 

Excerpt from:

 

“Constructing the Oriental 'Other': Saint-Saens's "Samson et Dalila"

 

Author: Ralph P. Locke

Source: Cambridge Opera Journal, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Nov., 1991), pp. 261-302

Published by: Cambridge University Press

 

 

Since Delilah

Delilah's aria, and especially its crowning phrase, have remained peculiarly vital in our musical culture, a perennial symbol of romantic passion and the thrill of the operatic voice. Sometimes the uses are plainly recognisable (though not necessarily straightforward!), as in Spike Jones's dixieland version (stuck in the middle of his soap-opera parody 'None but the Lonely Heart') or the soundtrack of Claude Chabrol's film Landru (1962).89 Thomas Mann's fictional composer Adrian Leverkühn and his friends even share several pages of favourable opinions about the sensual beauty of this aria of Delilah's - and make no reference to her duplicity - as they listen to it on the phonograph.90

 

Interesting in a different way are echoes that are not, presumably, intended to be recognised (and were probably not conscious allusions on the composer's part), such as the one sung by Sophie - in the same key of D flat - upon meeting Octavian in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier (1911); the melodic line dropping to the lower third is the striking point of resemblance, though the first leap is stretched to an octave (thus placing the next few notes a step higher than in Saint-Saens) and there is no second leap (see Ex. 15). The text is full of the ecstasy of love: 'Where before was I so happy? Thither must I return' (Dahin muss ich zurück).91

 

Even more complete are two (similarly unannounced) recollections from the middle of this century, a time when the opera that once encased Delilah's phrase was no longer being staged frequently outside France. In 1950, the young tenor Mario Lanza produced his first million-selling recording with 'Be My Love', by Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodszky (drawn from the film The Toast of New Orleans). The oft-repeated opening strain is little more than a flatfooted expansion of Delilah's phrase (see Ex. 16), just as the words carry the same message of unquenchable, lustful yearning.92 And seven years later on Broadway, Leonard Bernstein turned to the same melody, now condensed to its descending sequence of rising sevenths, when Maria and Anita join their voices in operatically conceived praise of the irresistible force that drives humankind - or at least the show's plot - onward: 'When love comes so strong, / There is no right or wrong', they sing, repeating the passage for emphasis, with slight melodic variation (see Ex. 17).93 It is not by chance, I suspect, that the single most renowned phrase from one of the most prominent Orientalist operas should show up in West Side Story, for Bernstein's musical - well known as a Romeo-and-Juliet tale - is closely related to this tradition, indeed enacts the paradigmatic plot ('white tenor-hero', etc.) more completely than does Samson.94 […].

 

 

 

 

Footnote 89

Spike Jones and his City Slickers ( ca. 1950;n ow on RCA CD3235). Chabrol film: a charming opera buff, during W orld War I, lures women to his countryhouse and kills them - see Christian Blanchet, Claude Chabrol (Paris, 1 989), 3 4-6, 149-51.

 

Footnote 90

Doctor Faustus, trans. H . T. Lowe-Porter (N ew York, 1948), chap. 38, pp. 409-16.

 

Footnote 91

'The smell of the rose draws one', Sophie says in the preceding bars,' as if there were cords around one's heart'. The striking resemblance of this image to the biblical Delilah's attempts to bind Samson may conceivably have guided Strauss's associations toward Saint-Saens's 'Mon coeur’ .

 

Footnote 92

Brodszky turns the tonality-blurring sequence-down-a-third into something platitudinous through more explicit harmonic action. The song, which was an international hit (recordings by Fritz Wunderlich and others), is the title cut on a recent compact disc by Placido Domingo; Lanza's recording has been rereleased on CD, and the music is still widely available in sheet music form and in several song anthologies.

 

Footnote 93

See Larry Stempel, 'Broadway's Mozartean Moment, or An Amadeus in Amber', in Steven Ledbetter, ed., Sennets and Tuckets: A Bernstein Celebration ( Boston, 1988), 49-50. By hovering back and forth between the tonic and submediant, Bernstein emphasises tonal ambiguity in somewhat pandiatonic fashion, the opposite of Brodszky's over-explicit tonal clarity.

 

Footnote 94

For a fuller discussion, see my 'West Side Story and Tales of the Orient', in progress.

Notes - Samson & Delilah, Der Rosenkavalier, West Side Story and 'Be My Love'.JPG

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Aug 16, 2019, 9:11:05 AM8/16/19
to Mario Lanza, Tenor

On this day, 16 August, 70 years ago, in 1949, Mario sang at the Hollywood Bowl, „Salute to MGM“. This was his third appearance at this venue. The conductor was John „Johnny“ Green. Johnny Green was musical director for Metro-Goldwyn Mayer from 1949 to 1959.  He worked with Mario Lanza in three MGM films. Besides, Mario Lanza recorded “The Trembling of a Leaf” and “Never Till Now,” two of Green’s compositions.

 

Here’s a little story about Green and the Hollywood Bowl:


On 15 July 2998 Mark Swed wrote in the Los Angeles Times (excerpt):

 

„In 1909, Marguerite Sylva [note: a Belgium mezzo-soprano (1875 – 1957), who once sang her signature role of „Carmen“ opposite Enrico Caruso in Berlin] made her American operatic debut as Carmen at the Manhattan Opera House. "On July 8, 1922, three days before the first season of "Symphonies Under the Stars" the Los Angeles Philharmonic, itself only 3 years old, mounted a lavish production of Bizet's opera [Carmen]. The cast numbered nearly 500. Massive sets of Seville surrounded the brand-new amphitheater. When soprano Marguerita Sylva, who starred, rolled into Union Station five days earlier, reporters were there to greet her as if she were a movie star. Proceeds from the performance financed the installation of the Bowl's first benches."

 

American conductor, composer and arranger Johnny Green (1908 – 1989) was a young boy when he attended the Carmen performance at the Hollywood Bowl on that historical day of 8 July 1922:


“The late conductor Johnny Green, in one of his last concerts at the Bowl in the '80s, recalled to his audience having attended that spectacular event as a youth, and the staggering impression made on him by the glorious singers, the four-story sets between which hung the monumental curtain, and the hordes of people, mules and horses descending the Otto K. Olesen-lit hillside leading into the smugglers' lair onstage.” (Kay E. Kuter, North Hollywood, “The Bowl's Birth,” The Los Angeles Times, 7 July 1996).



Here’s Marguerite Sylva Singing the “Seguidilla” from Bizet’s Carmen:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKSPcna4i-8



Steff

P.S.: Yes, Derek, another “Bertha link.”     :)

Hollywood Bowl, Carmen, July 1922.JPG
Says Carmen is a Success - The Los Angeles Times Sun Jul 9 1922.pdf

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Jun 6, 2021, 8:11:57 AM6/6/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hello to all,

I just stumbled over the attached article from 1959 about Jane SoRelle, which says that she got a film role in Mario Lanza's last film, "For the First Time."
Unfortunately the article does at no point mention what role she played, but it gives the - of course wrong - impression, that she was playing one of the female leading roles. As there are not many blonde women in this film, and certainly not any American women, I have come to the conclusion that the girl in question must be the one in the "Come prima" sequence. She's among the excited girls surrounding Mario, standing next to Nico, wearing a the red hair band and encouraging Mario (Toni Costa) to sing. 

Steff
Is this Jane SoRelle.JPG
Jane SoRelle, For the First Time - Article mlt.JPG
Jane SoRelle, gallery Rome.JPG

Vincent Di Placido

unread,
Jun 6, 2021, 8:42:05 AM6/6/21
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Steff, the tall Blonde woman in the photo is the singer, Nico, who found fame with Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground. She definitely has “it” she has always jumped off the screen for me.

Sent from my iPhone

On 6 Jun 2021, at 13:12, Steff Walzinger <Stefanie....@t-online.de> wrote:


--
To reply to this message, please go to: https://groups.google.com/g/mariolanza
---
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Mario Lanza, Tenor" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to mariolanza+...@googlegroups.com.
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/mariolanza/1502592f-7877-4a62-8f19-870d71b33c66n%40googlegroups.com.
<Is this Jane SoRelle.JPG>
<Jane SoRelle, For the First Time - Article mlt.JPG>
<Jane SoRelle, gallery Rome.JPG>

Vincent Di Placido

unread,
Jun 6, 2021, 8:44:06 AM6/6/21
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Sorry, Steff, I just reread your post and see you mention Nico. 😳😔
😂
Apologies! 👍🏻

Sent from my iPhone

On 6 Jun 2021, at 13:42, Vincent Di Placido <vincent....@gmail.com> wrote:

Steff, the tall Blonde woman in the photo is the singer, Nico, who found fame with Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground. She definitely has “it” she has always jumped off the screen for me.

Verna Aslin

unread,
Jun 6, 2021, 8:24:56 PM6/6/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
On the other end of the "It" spectrum, there is a dark-haired girl dressed in blue clutching a small handbag, who has a miserable expression right through the scene. Mario walks right past her at one point. I guess she missed the memo "look happy". Having noticed her, I can't unsee her, unfortunately. The crowd appears to be a mixture of actors and local extras.

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Oct 30, 2021, 7:07:25 PM10/30/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Since Derek McGovern was posting about the passing of Tomiko Kanazawa yesterday and also listed the (female) singers who are 
still alive (at least we do not have any other information), I was reminded of Johanna von Koczian, probably one of the "youngest" in
the circle of female partners of Mario Lanza. No, Johanna did not sing with Mario in "For the First Time," however, I wish she had.
She had a lovely, clear voice, and I understand she also took singing lessons and sang in musicals. It has always amazed me that she
has never changed much. She has always been her true self, so to speak, not arrogant at all, far away from being a diva, very down to
earth. Always having the same charming looks and this sweet, tender and almost girly speaking voice -  even at an advanced age.
Musically speaking, it is a pity that she was somewhat "reduced" to only singing "Schlager," as, I am sure she had more potential
(about ten years ago, for example, she appeared on stage in the role of Florence FosterJenkins in the comedy "Glorious!"), but then
again, it was just a time, when particular musical genres like the easy going Schlager were en vogue in Germany.

Until 2013 Johanna played in a TV series called "Die Landärztin" (The Country Doctor) and in one of the episodes , "Aus heiterem Himmel"
(Out of the Blue) she was singing the "Ave Maria" by Bach/Gounod.
The recording is attached, but I have to apologize for the bad sound quality. The episode from 2007 was a A.Ziegler/Wega Film, ARD
Degeto co-production). Johanna was 74 at that time.
Please also have a look at the photos, which show the film sequence where she is singing the "Ave Maria."
Johanna turned 88 on 30th October. 

Steff
Johanna von Koczian singing the Ave Maria by Bach,Gounod, 2007.mp3
Johanna von Koczian, 2007 in 'Die Landärztin,' Episode, 'Aus heiterem Himmel.'.JPG

Armando Cesari

unread,
Oct 31, 2021, 3:46:44 AM10/31/21
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Steff,
I love Johanna and thought that she was delightful in For the First Time. The sound on the Ave Maria from 2007 is pretty bad but from what I can hear, considering she was 74 and obviously not singing regularly, she manages fairly well and I even find her German accent quite endearing. She did sing  Eliza in a stage production of My Fair Lady in Frankfurt when she was young, so she must have had a reasonable voice. I would love to hear something from My Fair Lady if it exists. 

Armando 

--
To reply to this message, please go to: https://groups.google.com/g/mariolanza
---
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Mario Lanza, Tenor" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to mariolanza+...@googlegroups.com.

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Oct 31, 2021, 8:21:28 AM10/31/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Ciao Armando, 

I am afraid, but I think there's no recording of Johanna singing "My Fair Lady" (Incidentally, she also sang in "Kiss Me Kate")
The only thing I can offer you is a recording of "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins, but you might not like the "Schlager-like" arrangement:
(the attached photos from the mid 1960s most likely show here in this role; this was on the oaccasion of a TV show called "Werner Müllers Schlagermagazin," where she appeared as a guest star in 1965)


I also found a nice photo of Johanna with Zsa Zsa Gabor, taken in Berlin in 1960.

And here are two vocal performances of Johanna from the film "Jacqueline" (1959)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo_0Et78HPE  "Du bist der erste Mann" 

https://youtu.be/fPkezzw41MU  "Du hast die Augen, die ich liebe" (are you reminded of "Pineapple Pickers"????)

Speaking of co-actors of Mario in "For the First Time," who had a little singing career, I also want to point out these recordings of Hans Söhnker - so nostalgic!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NScr2NaLaNc   "Für wen macht eine Frau sich schön?" (1937?)

https://youtu.be/xDuwJLHen1A Martha Eggerth and Hans Söhnker in the film "Die Csardasfürstin." (1934)

Happy listening!

Steff

Johanna von Koczian, Mary Poppins, Mid 1960s.JPG
Berlin 1960, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Johanna von Koczian.JPG

Derek McGovern

unread,
Oct 31, 2021, 9:26:07 AM10/31/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Steff,

Interesting bits and pieces you've provided on Johanna!

Your mention of the interesting Hans Söhnker (whom I've always liked as an actor, by the way) reminds me: Have you ever read his autobiography? I'm curious as to whether he discusses Mario in it. 

Of course, we already have his moving comments on Mario's singing and acting in the Pagliacci scene from For the First Time---and he was also quoted in "Armando" Hausner's 1962 book---but it would be nice to know if he had anything else to say about the man.

It's too bad Johanna never got round to writing her long-promised autobiography!

Cheers,
Derek

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Oct 31, 2021, 10:57:17 AM10/31/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Derek,

No, I have not read Söhnker's biography, but will try and find out if there's any mention of Mario.
I was surprised to read that he was born in Kiel, in the very North of Germany. His voice would not suggest this,
as he had a very pleasantly and softly sounding speaking voice - like we have here in the South or in Austria.
The pronunciation in the North is more stiff, so to speak.

Steff


Armando Cesari

unread,
Oct 31, 2021, 8:04:15 PM10/31/21
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Thanks, Steff. Johanna's is not a great voice -it's rather a sweet one- but she has enough charm to sell whatever she is singing. 
 Söhnker is a surprise. I knew he sang in a pleasant voice in a style similar to the French singers Jean Sablon and Charles Trenet, but I didn't know he also sang in operetta. 

 Armando 

--
To reply to this message, please go to: https://groups.google.com/g/mariolanza
---
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Mario Lanza, Tenor" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to mariolanza+...@googlegroups.com.

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Nov 4, 2021, 6:47:24 AM11/4/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Derek,

I checked the Söhnker 1976 biography, "Hans Söhnker ... und kein Tag zuviel" (not a very comprehensive one),  and there is indeed a paragraph about Mario Lanza.

Here's my translation:
„Last but not least I would like to mention the film „Serenade einer großen Liebe,“ because I got to know Mario Lanza, this terrific singer, who, sadly, was such a weak human being. His appetite induced his untimely death. „Serenade einer großen Liebe“ was his last film. Since enough has been said about his incomparably beautiful voice, I would only like to make an additional comment about Lanza, the actor. Back then, it was often said, that he couldn‘t offer anything in this field. I have to disagree. When the shooting of him singing „Ridi Pagliaccio“ on stage was done, I sneaked into the auditorium and listened. There he stood, at the forestage, like a wounded animal, lamenting his sorrow. At the time this made a strong impression on me in terms of acting.“

Steff
Söhnker, Biografie, Mario Lanza.JPG

Derek McGovern

unread,
Nov 5, 2021, 9:35:00 AM11/5/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Steff: Thanks very much for going to all that trouble. 

These are moving comments from Söhnker, apart from his rather damning dismissal of Mario's "weak" character. It sounds as though he was basing his criticism on hearsay (that hoary old "he ate himself to death" myth that I always used to hear when I was growing up)---unless by "appetite" he meant alcohol intake as well as food. Even so, Mario seems to have kept both of those appetites under control while filming For the First Time

Cheers,
Derek

Steff Walzinger

unread,
Nov 9, 2021, 6:02:44 AM11/9/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Derek,

Just for clarification, "appetite" was really meant in the way of appeasing hunger. Söhnker spoke about "Völlerei," a word that is difficult to translate 1:1 into English. Maybe "gluttony" would apply - excessive eating. 
Incidentally, I feel that Söhnker would have become a true paternal friend for Mario, had they stayed in contact. Looking at the Berlin interview I think Mario was very "tame" in his presence, almost shy. It did Mario very good to be with down-to-earth people such as Söhnker or von Koczian (no Hollywood glamour).

Steff


Derek McGovern

unread,
Nov 26, 2021, 11:59:35 PM11/26/21
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
Hi Steff: Much-belated thanks for clarifying that Söhnker was referring to Mario's appetite for food. It seems that he believed the myth perpetuated by the likes of Liberace (in his autobiography) that Mario had literally eaten himself to death. 

Oh well. But I certainly share your view that (from everything that I've read about him) he would have been a good influence on Mario had they remained in contact.  

What a congenial group of people worked with Mario on his final film!

Cheers,
Derek  
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages