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(1951) was Mario Lanza's third movie. It was the closest he would get to being Enrico Caruso and he probably knew it. It was the role he most wanted to play in his life, and by most accounts he studied most assiduously for it and gave it his very best. In the movie, he sang Because and Ave Maria and, of course, arias from some of the great Caruso roles: Celeste Aida from Verdi's Aida, Vesti la giubba from Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci, M'apparai from Flotow's Martha, La donna e mobile from Verdi's Rigoletto, Cielo e mar from Ponchielli's La Gioconda, E lucevan le stelle from Puccini's Tosca, as well as songs by Tosti and Rossini. His performance won him an enthused press and an adoring public - which, given the reach of movies, numbered in the millions - more worshipful, as Time Magazine noted, than the public ever was of the great Caruso in his time. (But perhaps the comparison ought not to be made as Caruso was not a creature of Hollywood, but of the operatic stage and the gramophone - he was the first singer to be regularly recorded.) The movie was a box office winner, earning for New York's Radio City Hall $1.5M in 10 weeks!

Ann Blyth
was Mario Lanza's leading lady. But to play the other singing roles, MGM imported several singers from the Metropolitan Opera, most notably soprano Dorothy Kirsten. She was one of the few notable opera singers from the Metropolitan Opera who had occasion to perform with Mario Lanza on screen and/or the concert stage (George London as earlier noted and Licia Albanese who sang with Lanza himself in Serenade were the others.) For Kirsten's reminiscences of Lanza and the filming of The Great Caruso, click HERE.

Listen to Mario Lanza hit the high notes.
But wait for background music (from Verdi's Celeste Aida ) to finish before pressing any of the PLAY buttons below.

More from Celeste Aida
from Verdi's Aida

Questa o quella
from Verdi's Rigoletto

Recondita armonia
from Puccini's Tosca

Addio alla madre
from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana

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