New CD from Sepia Records: "The Immortal Voice of Mario Lanza: A Centennial Celebration"

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Derek McGovern

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May 17, 2021, 12:42:13 AM5/17/21
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[This is a re-post after I inadvertently posted the wrong title in my original announcement]

I am delighted to announce that a new Lanza CD from the UK-based company Sepia Records (a specialist in restoring pre-1963 recordings) will be released next month. The CD is entitled The Immortal Voice of Mario Lanza: A Centennial Celebration.

Armando Cesari, Vince Di Placido, Carmel Cesari and yours truly compiled the CD and also chose the photos for the accompanying booklet. I wrote the lengthy liner notes. 

I'm very excited about this CD (in which I should add, as always, none of us has any financial involvement), as not only are all the selections a delight from start to finish, but also most of them have never sounded better. 

Here is the track list and the cover photo, and I'll be posting more details about the restorations of specific recordings on the CD in the near future. 

THE IMMORTAL VOICE OF MARIO LANZA:

A CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION

1 Cavalleria Rusticana: Brindisi (Mascagni, Targioni-Tozzetti, Menasci)

Recorded at MGM Studios, Los Angeles, on August 23, 1950                     

2 Ergo Bibamus (Eberwein, with English lyrics adapted from Goethe)

Recorded at MGM Studios, Los Angeles, on August 7, 1952                                               

3 Just We Two (from The Student Prince) (Romberg-Donnelly)

Recorded at Cinecittà Studios, Rome, in April 1959

4 If I Loved You (from Carousel) (Rodgers-Hammerstein)

Recorded at Radio Recorder Studio, Los Angeles, on February 15, 1952                

5 Long Ago (and Far Away) (Kern-I. Gershwin)

Recorded at Radio Recorder Studio, Los Angeles, on July 13, 1951                        

6 Some Day (from The Vagabond King) (Friml-Hooker-Post)

Recorded at CBS TV Studios, Los Angeles, on October 28, 1954                           

7 Trees  (Kilmer-Rasbach)

Recorded at Radio Recorder Studio, Los Angeles, on November 20, 1951             

8 The Virgin’s Slumber Song (Reger)

Recorded at Republic Studios, Los Angeles, on May 29, 1950                                

9 Neapolitan Love Song (from Princess Pat) (Herbert-Blossom)

Recorded at Radio Recorder Studio, Los Angeles, on November 29, 1951 

10 La Spagnola (Dole-Di Chiara)

Recorded at Radio Recorder Studio, Los Angeles, on May 9, 1952                         

11 Core ’ngrato (Cordiffero-Cardillo)

Recorded at RCA Studios, New York City, on May 5, 1949                                     

12 Marechiare (Tosti-Di Giacomo)

Recorded at MGM Studios, Los Angeles, on August 9, 1950                                               

13 Torna a Surriento (B.G. De Curtis-E. De Curtis)

Recorded at Warner Bros. Studios, Los Angeles, on June 30, 1955                                     

14 Santa Lucia Luntana (E.A. Mario)

Recorded at Cinecittà Studios, Rome, in December 1958                                        

15 L’Alba Separa dalla Luce l’Ombra (Tosti-D’Annunzio)

Recorded at Cinecittà Studios, Rome, in June 1959                                    

16 Pagliacci: Vesti la giubba (Leoncavallo)

Recorded at the Rome Opera House in September 1958                                          

17 Andrea Chénier: Improvviso (Un dì all’azzurro spazio) (Giordano-Illica)

Recorded at Republic Studios, Los Angeles, on May 18, 1950

18 Tosca: E lucevan le stelle (Puccini-Giacosa-Illica)          

Recorded at MGM Film Studios, Los Angeles, on July 22, 1950          

19 Otello: Già nella notte densa (Verdi-Boito)

Live CBS broadcast from Liederkranz Hall, New York City, on November 14, 1945

BONUS TRACKS

20 Golden Days (from The Student Prince) (Romberg-Donnelly)

Live CBS broadcast from Liederkranz Hall, New York City, on February 20, 1946

21 Summertime in Heidelberg (Brodszky-Webster) 

Recorded at Cinecittà Studios, Rome, in April 1959

22 Drinking Song (from The Vagabond King) (Friml-Hooker-Post)            

Recorded at Cinecittà Studios, Rome, in July 1959  

23 Without a Song (Youmans-Rose-Eliscu)

Recorded at Radio Recorder Studio, Los Angeles, on August 14, 1951

Cover.png





 

Emilio iodice

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May 17, 2021, 4:29:56 AM5/17/21
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Dear Derek, thank you and Vince for this wonderful gift to those who love Lanza.  Warm regards, Emilio

Emilio Iodice

Wall Street Journal Number One Best Selling Author including the new International Best Seller, The Commander in Chief: The Qualities Needed of Leaders of Freedom Loving Nations, Lessons from American Presidential History

http://www.iodicebooks.com/

“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Etienne de Grellet, Quaker Missionary

"You can't win today's games with yesterday's home runs."

“You can never defeat a person who never gives up.”

George Herman "Babe" Ruth, American Baseball player.

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world." Harriet Tubman

"And you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free." John 8:32

 

 

 

 

 

 




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Derek McGovern

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May 17, 2021, 6:54:23 AM5/17/21
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Here is the back cover of the CD. As you can see, five of the recordings have not been released commercially before. The "Brindisi" from Cavalleria rusticana is a slightly longer version of the recording heard in the second operatic montage in The Great Caruso, and it sounds sensational---an exhilarating start to the CD (as well as the perfect segue into another drinking song, the brief but delectable "Ergo Bibamus").  

The 1954 rehearsal version of "Some Day" surpasses Lanza's exciting live performance that same day (for the second Shower of Stars show), and has been beautifully restored. I should also single out "L'Alba Separa dalla Luce l'Ombra," which now sounds even better than on the 2015 Sepia CD My Italian Soul.  (I never thought that Sepia would top its earlier restoration of that recording, but it has. Ditto the 1958 "Santa Lucia Luntana.") I think aficionados are going to be particularly surprised by "L'Alba Separa"! But the same goes for Sepia's restoration of transcriptions of "Neapolitan Love Song" and "La Spagnola" (the former gifted by Colleen Lanza many years ago), the "Drinking Song" from The Vagabond King, and many others. I'm also thrilled by the improvements in sound quality to the 1958 "Vesti la giubba" and the seldom-heard "Just We Two,"  while the Lanza-only private acetate of "Summertime in Heidelberg" from the same 1959 Student Prince remake as the latter duet is now a seductive delight.

"If I Loved You" and "Without a Song" also sound both warmer and more vibrant than on previous releases, and "Trees" is an absolute knockout!  I'm also very pleased that the 1949 "Core 'ngrato" is now free of the annoying flutter that mars the climactic B-flat on all post-1951 releases of the recording that I've heard. The magnificent 1955 "Torna a Surriento" also has a greater warmth than on previous releases, including even Sepia's.

The CD will be available in June (I don't know the exact date yet) directly from Sepia Records, and presumably around mid-July from Amazon and all the other online sellers. I'll provide links and other information closer to the release dates.  

Sepia1a.png


Derek McGovern

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May 21, 2021, 10:58:36 AM5/21/21
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I've just posted an announcement about the CD on the News page at Mario Lanza, Tenor:

Steff Walzinger

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May 21, 2021, 5:39:48 PM5/21/21
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Dear Derek,

Warmest congratulations on the realization of yet another – the 9th (!) – Sepia release, and thank you to all my dear friends - you, Armando, Carmel and Vince who, I am sure, again put all their heart and soul along with their musical and technical knowledge into this exciting project. A true labour of love! It is most gratifying that Sepia Records has made this possible. Nine releases within only a few years! Wow, that is really outstanding! I have been hoping that Sony („RCA“) would not miss out on the occasion and celebrate Mario‘s 100th birthday as well as Caruso’s 100th anniversary of death - both big money makers for the record company (I have been dreaming of a double-feature album of the two great artists – Mario and his great idol) – but I am afraid that it will not happen. So kudos that you achieved the almost impossible!

A few days ago, I checked about our other centenaries – Giuseppe di Stefano, Franco Corelli and, of course, Enrico Caruso. Some mentioning of their anniversaries on different places, yes, but as far as I can see, none of them was worth being celebrated with a CD release! (A damning indictment!).  So, Mario Lanza definitely is the winner! His flame keeps burning highly!

Thank you again, for what you have done for „our“ Mario, and let’s hope that the release will be a great success. The price, as always, is very reasonable, as far as I can see on different websites, so everybody should spare no effort or expense in placing their order. I am sure, that the CD can also soon be pre-ordered on the Sepia Records website. 

A release to look forward to! And, who knows, maybe you will round off the „ten“ sometime, and then celebrate a little jubilee yourself!

Steff

Derek McGovern

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May 22, 2021, 1:56:34 AM5/22/21
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Hi Steff: Yes, it's truly shocking that the centenaries of all these tenors have been overlooked (or worse, disregarded) by their official recording companies. I know that CD sales are pitiful these days, but still....it wouldn't cost that much to put out a decent remastered CD. After all, Sepia Records' nine Lanza releases since 2015 are surely proof that there is still a market for well-compiled CDs, especially when packaged as handsomely as their discs invariably are. 

I seriously doubt that Sony would lose money on a high quality Lanza release, so what's stopping them?

By the way, the CD won't be appearing on Sepia's website until it's actually available directly from them. They don't offer pre-ordering. As soon as Sepia receives its first shipment of the discs (from its manufacturing plant in Austria), it'll simply appear as a "forthcoming release," but will be in stock and available from that point. That'll be around June 14.   

Derek

Steff Walzinger

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May 22, 2021, 7:52:16 AM5/22/21
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Derek,

I really don't know why Sony has not taken the opportunity to celebrate Mario's centenary and bring out something special.
I think Derek Mannering tried to make them interested in a release but, sadly, did not succeed. I admit that even I contacted Sony (international and in Germany) a while back to remind them of Mario's 100th birthday (just in case they had forgotten about it!!), but never got any feedback. Alas!
At least when it comes to "our" Fritz Wunderlich we cannot complain here in Germany. A whole seven releases since last year, one of them Wunderlich's last recital, which took place at Usher Hall in Edinburgh - only ten days before he died.

Steff 

Tony Partington

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May 22, 2021, 9:46:28 AM5/22/21
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Looks terrific Derek! Very exciting!!!

On Fri, May 21, 2021, 10:58 AM Derek McGovern <derek.m...@gmail.com> wrote:
I've just posted an announcement about the CD on the News page at Mario Lanza, Tenor:

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Derek McGovern

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May 23, 2021, 7:17:58 AM5/23/21
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Hi Steff: Good on you for trying to prod Sony into releasing a disc this year!

Actually, if Sony got its act together over the next month or so, there's no reason the company couldn't release something before this centenary year is over. I presume Derek Mannering has already submitted his proposal for a long-overdue second operatic compilation (the promising one he outlined last year on the Rense forum), and Sony certainly wouldn't need more than three or four months to attend to the remastering and booklet design. So why wait until it's too late to take advantage of this centenary year?!  

Derek

Derek McGovern

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Jun 10, 2021, 9:44:36 PM6/10/21
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The Immortal Voice: A Centennial Celebration is now available for preorder from Amazon, and will be released in the US on July 2:


Meanwhile in the UK, Sepia Records has just received its first shipment of the CD, so it should be available for immediate purchase from them in the next couple of days.  I'll post the link as soon as it's available.

Derek McGovern

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Jun 12, 2021, 8:11:14 AM6/12/21
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Just an update (especially for those in the UK and Europe): Sepia Records now has The Immortal Voice of Mario Lanza in stock for immediate delivery at this link

If you're in the US and are interested in purchasing this CD, it will soon be in stock at the Mario Lanza Institute and Museum. (Since the Institute supports Lanza's legacy and awards scholarships in his name, it's certainly a much worthier recipent of your money than Amazon and co!) 

Vincent Di Placido

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Jun 14, 2021, 9:31:11 AM6/14/21
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The new Lanza cd arrived from Sepia Records today and it’s sounding beautiful, really enjoying the remastering and sequencing, it’s just perfect! Oh! And wonderfully written booklet notes by Derek McGovern with fabulous photographs.
Sepia Centennial.jpg

Derek McGovern

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Jun 14, 2021, 9:55:05 AM6/14/21
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Hi Vince!

As the first person I know who's received this CD, your reaction means a lot to me. Thanks so much for your own contribution to this release, and I can't wait to hear it myself (probably in a week or so).

Enjoy!

Cheers,
Derek

Steff Walzinger

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Jun 16, 2021, 7:11:29 AM6/16/21
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I just received the new Sepia CD this morning! What a great start into the day!

(Vince, congratulation on having won the „first receiver“-  competition! Ireland beat Germany, LOL). I can only echo what Vince said about the liner notes by Derek McGovern. Brilliantly written, pointing out what makes „our boy“ so great and unique. The CD is so very well and appealingly presented, everything done so professionally. I have not had the time yet to listen to the CD, however, I do not want to hesitate to thank all those lovely people, who made this centenary celebration of our beloved tenor possible – First and forward, our leading forces, my dear friends Derek McGovern, Armando Cesari and his lovely wife Carmel Parisi - Cesari, Vince di Placido, and the Sepia Records team, headed by its managing director, Richard Tay. Please all keep up the good work of promoting the legacy of our Mario!

Derek, a warm thank you for the special surprise at the end of the liner notes! You’ve definitely made my day! It is a labour of love and a passion to all of us.

Steff

Sepia Records, 9th release June 2021.JPG

Derek McGovern

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Jun 16, 2021, 8:41:05 AM6/16/21
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You're most welcome, Steff! I was delighted to acknowledge your contribution, which included not only a lovely statement by Mario (translated by you from the original Italian) that I quote in the liner notes, but also a terrific photo. 

Nine CDs in six and a half years! Can we dare to hope for a tenth?!  

Cheers,
Derek

Steff Walzinger

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Jun 16, 2021, 8:55:53 AM6/16/21
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Derek,

I am quite sure you will round off the ten! We count on you!

Steff

Arthur McClintock

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Jun 16, 2021, 11:27:17 AM6/16/21
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Great CD and great notes! Thank you Derek.
Can we dare to hope for a tenth? Well, some of us are familiar with DES...that is, digitally extracted stereo from mono. For those who don't know, this digital wizardry allows the audio engineer to take a mono recording and isolate the various instruments and vocals etc. and then, position them, left to right in the stereo picture. This is not to be confused with the dreadful duophonic stereo of the past. It is indeed proper STEREO!  Mario's vocal is kept center of course, and can be lifted or reduced in volume as required.
I myself have used this amazing digital technology on some of Mario' s tracks, and they sound wonderful!
Well Derek, I would suggest a DES stereo release for the tenth Mario Sepia CD!
Arthur McClintock (former BBC Senior Audio Supervisor)

16 Jun 2021 13:47:11 Derek McGovern <derek.m...@gmail.com>:

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Derek McGovern

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Jun 16, 2021, 6:38:10 PM6/16/21
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Thank you for your intriguing post, Arthur. It's nice to know there's another person out there enjoying the new CD!

I would be most interested in hearing one of your Lanza DES experiments if you'd care to post an MP3 example (even just a partial recording). You can post attachments here of up to 5MB.

Cheers,
Derek

Steff Walzinger

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Jun 17, 2021, 3:30:19 PM6/17/21
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Hi Arthur,

Welcome to this forum!
May I ask you, are you the BBC radio presenter, who, back in the mid 1990s, did the "Lanza Bonanza" programme?

Steff 

Arthur McClintock

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Jun 17, 2021, 6:54:41 PM6/17/21
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Hi Steff.......thanks for the welcome!
Yes indeed, 25 years ago, I was that presenter!! I'm sure I'd cringe if I listened to that broadcast today! It's in my archives somewhere!
Cheers, Arthur.

17 Jun 2021 20:38:40 Steff Walzinger <Stefanie....@t-online.de>:

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AZENCOT MARCEL

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Jun 19, 2021, 8:39:46 AM6/19/21
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Hi! everybody, 

I just received the Centennial Mario Lanza CD this morning in Paris and I know our friends from the Belgian M L Society have ordered it and will certainly review it in their paper Bulletin.

I shall present it and review it on our french society website (opera club de Paris Mario Lanza) and in our next radio broadcasts.

Congratulations to all of you who worked out of passion for this beautiful achievement and our thanks to Sepia Records. 

Hey! RCA-SONY-BMG (or whatever you are...), where are you ? Have you lost your soul and forgotten your Red Seal ? Big silence ! Listen: when you forget your glorious past, you lose your future ! But by the way, bear in mind that Mario Lanza has always been the "Present" ! And you are missing that too...

Marcel AZENCOT, Opera Club Mario Lanza, Paris, France

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Derek McGovern

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Jun 19, 2021, 8:01:58 PM6/19/21
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Merci, Marcel! 

Richard Tay, Managing Director of Sepia Records, will be delighted to hear this. He's already been very encouraged by the response that this CD has received, so I think I can safely say that this will not be the last Sepia Lanza release.

And, yes, now we just need to get Sony interested again in Mario! If only that company would realize that there is genuine demand out there for Lanza releases----and especially for another operatic compilation. After all, it's only been 22 years since their last all-operatic Lanza CD!

Derek

ver...@gmail.com

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Nov 8, 2021, 1:12:32 AM11/8/21
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Through a comedy of errors, I have only just received my copy of "The immortal voice of Mario Lanza" CD which I ordered in June. On first listening, for me a standout in this album of treasures is the solo version of "Summertime in Heidelberg". While it doesn't replace the soundtrack version in my favour, since that version is lightly and seductively sung in a way that is so appropriate to the screenplay, the solo version is glorious and majestic. I understand it was recorded about the same time as the version used for Norma Giusti to dub to, but is superior IMHO. I always felt the Giusti version was a bit mournful. The solo version is similarly slow but I feel it is reflective in tone rather than mournful, and the voice, of course, is mature and beautiful. Anyway I felt I wanted to acknowledge the CD even this late in the day, so please excuse me. The last 4 "bonus tracks" leave me reduced to a jelly.

Derek McGovern

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Nov 20, 2021, 10:32:42 PM11/20/21
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Belated thanks for your comments on the latest Sepia CD, Verna.

I agree that the solo version of the 1959 Summertime in Heidelberg reveals the late Lanza voice at its most majestic and beautiful. One thing I should correct you on, though: this is the same version as the released one with Norma Giusti added to the mix. It's simply that RCA did Lanza a grave disservice when they remixed the tapes in New York, pushing his voice back at times, adding dubious echo here and there, and sometimes drowning him out when they added Giusti.  What you're hearing on the Sepia CD is what Mario himself would have heard at the time of recording in Rome---before all the ill-advised tampering took place. And it's a revelation.

I've recently acquired some of the other 1959 material in its original form, and it's equally revelatory. RCA certainly did Mario no favours on their poorly mixed released versions of his final recording sessions!

Derek       

ver...@gmail.com

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Nov 21, 2021, 1:33:18 AM11/21/21
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Colour me redfaced! What you have pointed out amazed me Derek, but after some intensive listening of course you are right. In defence of my feeling that the duet version is deeper and darker, I do have the perception that some of the tones of his voice there in the solo version are missing in the final version. My knowledge of musical terminology is grossly inadequate but I do find he sounds more "Mario" in the solo version while his voice is "flattened" after being edited. I am fascinated by the 1959 recordings and look forward to hearing more original tapes. Where his voice was heading in his final years is extremely interesting and I find myself uselessly speculating what he he might have recorded next.  While I love Mario singing as "the Prince" he was definitely singing as "the King" in his final year, you might even say "Jove".

Derek McGovern

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Nov 26, 2021, 11:23:13 PM11/26/21
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Hi Verna: I'm equally fascinated by the 1959 recordings, and hearing the untouched acetate of something like "Love Me Tonight" offers a clear indication of how perfect the late Lanza voice would have been for the role of Canio, which of course Mario was planning to sing at the Rome Opera the following year. To my ears, it's a true spinto voice in 1959---incredibly robust and vibrant---and as compelling a sound in its own way as the earlier lirico-spinto voice. Yes, there is tiredness at times in the voice, due entirely to the man's physical condition (and certainly not because of any vocal deterioration), but there are many compensations, particularly in Mario's phrasing and controlled, sensitive approach on the best of his 1959 recordings.  

The 1959 Student Prince is particularly interesting in its raw form---although I do feel that The Vagabond King is the best of the four English-language albums from 1959---and Sepia did a good job of reproducing the commercial version back in 2012 (two years before Armando, Vince and I got involved in compiling that company's Lanza releases). But the raw acetates of the 1959 Student Prince---as you heard on "Summertime in Heidelberg" on the latest Sepia CD---are something else. With the exception of "Beloved," which is hopelessly marred by a bad arrangement and an inappropriate lower key,  the singing ranges from good to impressive, and sounds much better than on the badly mixed and echo-added commercial release. 

Cheers,
Derek
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