Monday April 24, 2017 12:17 am


YOUR GATEWAY TO OPERA AND CLASSICAL MUSIC
FANFAIRE celebrates MARIO LANZA
The "American Caruso"

OPERA

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“Lanza excelled in both the classical and the light popular repertory, an accomplishment that was beyond even my father’s exceptional talents.”
-Enrico Caruso, Jr., tenor & author (1904-1987)

All his life Mario Lanza longed to be the “American Caruso”. Given the power, richness, and range of his voice, he very well could have been. But he sang on the operatic stage only three times – in his youth while a summer student at Tanglewood–in two performances as Fenton in a production of Lehar’s operetta The Merry Widow, and on two performances of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the New Orleans Opera sometime in 1947. (The write-up on the back of the RCA 2-record LP album Mario Lanza, “Opera’s Greatest Hits” released in 1971 claims he also sang in an operatic production of La Boheme. This most likely refers to a one-off presentation of Act III of Puccini’s La bohème in which he sang the role of Rodolfo the the noted Mexican soprano Irma González’ Mimi, about which the NY Times critic Jay C. Rosenfeld wrote on August 9, 1942: “Irma González as Mimì and Mario Lanza as Rodolfo were conspicuous by the beauty of their voices and the vividness of their characterizations.”)

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“He had a fantastic voice–not just wonderful–a fantastic voice. In my teens I used to go to Mario Lanza movies and then come home and imitate him in the mirror”.
- Luciano Pavarotti,tenor (1935-2007)

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“A vocal “force of nature …possessed one of the truly great natural tenor voices of the past century-a voie of beauty, passion and power. …his films did “more to lure the general public to the art form of operatic singing than the voice of any almost any other performer before his time.”
- Placido Domingo,tenor(b.1941)

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“That wonderful voice and the charismatic appeal of his personality had a profound effect on my life and I decided there and then that I too would one day sing the great operatic roles so persuasively portrayed by the young American tenor.”
- Jose Carreras,tenor(b.1946)

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“As I listened in wonder to my father’s worn-out recordings of Mario Lanza… I had no idea how profoundly they would affect the path of my life., much less that I would someday be given the opportunity to record them myself….”
- Richard Leech,tenor (b.1957)

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“Perhaps it sounds a bit of a cliche, but it is based on actual fact that I am singing opera, thanks to this man here – Mario Lanza. Because when I was with a rock metal band at the age of 13, my uncle told me, “Ah that awful music you’re listening to… now you have to show you what real singing is all about. And he pushed in the VHS copy that he had of “The Great Caruso,” and the first thing he sings is not a song. He was vocalizing… the minute I heard it…I said, “This is the most beautiful sound a man can make. This must be the epitome of singing. And it turns out I was right…. I must have heard opera somewhere in the background before… but to see it in person in your face by such a charismatic personality like Mario Lanza I think was definitely pivotal. And I’m not surprised that Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras pretty much started the same way. He was kind of the first catalyst that made them go into this work. And why not? He had a gorgeous voice, good-looking, a good actor in that genre–film; so that’s I guess, a pretty natural reaction. He definitely had one of the desert island voices that I would take with me.”
- Joseph Calleja, tenor (b.1978) – from an interview with Classic FM’s Lucy Coward)

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Lanza is “the greatest musical talent of America in our century… natural zest and unbelievable diction. A man who is bringing great music to the kids, the farms, the ghettos, and the palaces…. In 50 years, people will recognize Lanza for the great artist he is.”
- Lawrence Tibbett, baritone (1896-1960)

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“…the greatest given throat ever heard in a young man.”
-Tito Schipa, tenor (1888-1965)

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“I don’t think he realized how good he was.”
- Giuseppe Di Stefano, tenor (1921–2008)

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“Lanza has the finest natural tenor voice I’ve ever heard.”
-Renata Tebaldi, soprano (1922-2004)

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Lanza “was not a complicated man. He had a great voice and a big soul. He was marvelous company, and he was a gentleman.”
-Licia Albanese, soprano (b.1913)

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“…it makes me sad to think of Mario, his great gift, and what an incredible loss to the world of opera his passing was.”
-Dorothy Kirsten, soprano (1910-1992)

The paucity of his performances on the operatic stage is by no means a fair measure of his impact on opera. Rock-star famous, and with an international fan base that rivaled Elvis Presley’s, he raised the public’s consciousness of opera in a way that no opera singer before him and after could have–yes, not even his idol Caruso. That a great number became opera fans because they heard Mario Lanza sing or saw his movies is not difficult to imagine. Indeed, famous opera singers, including opera’s most adored tenors, in the post-Lanza era unabashedly have embraced Lanza as a source of inspiration, and even to this day, spare no words of praise in paying tribute to the tenor with the golden voice. [see sidebar].

Lanza did get to sing the great Caruso arias on the concert stage and on film–he was a smashing success in his film portrayal as “The Great Caruso”. He went on grand concert tours several times in his career, singing to sold out audiences at all times. And he did get to sing with some of the Met’s great opera singers – on the concert stage with his old friend George London, and in the movies with sopranos Dorothy Kirsten and Licia Albanese, all of whom had nothing but praise for the natural beauty of his voice, as did the great Caruso’s son, actor and tenor Enrico Caruso, Jr.

lanza-mltuckerAlthough there are stories of his secret dislike of opera’s “longhairs,” it would seem that he also nursed a secret longing for the company of the great opera singers. When the famed American tenor Richard Tucker made his Royal Opera House debut in London’s Covent Garden, Mario Lanza made it a point to attend the performance and invited the Tuckers to a post-performance meal in his suite at the Dorchester. In what must have been a meeting of kindred souls, they talked the evening away like old friends. It was not until well past three in the morning that the Tuckers and the Lanzas said their goodbyes. Later Mrs. Tucker reflected:

“It was as if Mario wanted to figure out why Richard’s life had gone one direction, and his own life another. He was very subdued that night and seemed to hang on to every word Richard spoke. He seemed to want and need a friendly ear, and in Richard he found one. …Richard and I both got the impression that, for all his wealth and sucess, Mario wasn’t really happy. Something important, something very basic, seemed missing from his life…. We knew him only briefly, but we felt he was really our friend.”

And so… having been drawn to the fame and fortune of Hollywood, Mario Lanza sang the great arias of opera OUTSIDE of opera. It was the only way. For it was impossible then, as it is now, to find a happy balance between the excesses of celebrity – especially the Hollywood variety – and the rigors of opera. But in no way did it diminish his contribution to the art form. It was MARIO LANZA’s special gift to sing Caruso in a way that inspired boys (e.g., in their youth: “The Three Tenors, Richard Leech, and most recently, Joseph Calleja) to become opera singers, and made people realize they could enjoy “Una furtiva lagrima” as much as they enjoyed “Be My Love”. Indeed when the “Three Tenors” staged any one of their concerts, it was very much in emulation of Mario Lanza, bigger-than-life than the Three Tenors and Caruso combined,

- whose singing brought OPERA to the PEOPLE and the PEOPLE to OPERA. What a great gift to MUSIC!

WATCH VIDEO EXCERPTS FROM JOSE CARRERAS’ 1994 CONCERT AT LONDON’S ROYAL ALBERT HALL “WITH A SONG IN MY HEART: TRIBUTE TO MARIO LANZA”
Clips show footages and newsreels of Mario Lanza’s appearances in London

 

José Carreras Sings – With a Song In My heart – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 1

José Carreras Sings – With a Song In My heart – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 1

From the Concert : “With a Song In My heart, A Tribute to Mario Lanza”
1994, Royal Albert Hall – London
Part 1

With A Song In My Heart

WITH A SONG IN MY HEART

With a song in my heart
I behold your adorable face.
Just a song at the start
but it soon is a hymn to your grace.
When the music swells
I’m touching your hand
It tells me you’re standing near, and ..
At the sound of your voice
heaven opens its portals to me.
Can I help but rejoice
that a song such as ours came to be?
But I always knew
I would live life through
with a song in my heart for you.

José Carreras Sings – Because You´re Mine – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 2

José Carreras Sings – Because You´re Mine – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 2

From the Concert : “With a Song In My heart, A Tribute to Mario Lanza”
1994, Royal Albert Hall – London
Part 2

Because You´re Mine

Because you’re mine
The brightest star I see
Looks down, my love, and envies me
Because you’re mine, because you’re mine

Because you’re mine
The breeze that hurries by
Becomes a melody and why?
Because you’re mine, because you’re mine

I only know for as long as I may live
I’ll only live for the kiss that you alone may give me

And when we kiss
That isn’t thunder, dear
It’s only my poor heart you hear and its applause
Because you’re mine

I only know for as long as I may live
I’ll only live for the kiss that you alone may give me

And when we kiss
That isn’t thunder, dear
It’s only my poor heart you hear and its applause
Because you’re mine

José Carreras Sings – L´Ultima Canzone (Tosti) – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 3

José Carreras Sings – L´Ultima Canzone (Tosti) – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 3

From the Concert : “With a Song In My heart, A Tribute to Mario Lanza”
1994, Royal Albert Hall – London
Part 3

L´Ultima Canzone (Francesco Paolo Tosti)

M’han detto che domani,
Nina, vi fate sposa,
ed io vi canto ancor la serenata!

Là, nei deserti piani,
là, ne la valle ombrosa,
oh quante volte a voi l’ho ricantata!
oh quante volte a voi l’ho ricantata!

“Foglia di rosa, o fiore d’amaranto,
se ti fai sposa,
io ti sto sempre accanto.
Se ti fai sposa,
io ti sto sempre accanto.”
Foglia di rosa.

Domani avrete intorno
Feste sorrisi e fiori,
nè penserete ai nostri vecchi amori.

Ma sempre, notte e giorno,
piena di passione,
verrà gemendo a voi la mia canzone:
verrà gemendo la mia canzone:

“Foglia di menta, o fiore di granato,
Nina, rammenta i baci che t’ho dato!
Nina, rammenta i baci che t’ho dato!”
Foglia di menta!
La… La… La

José Carreras Sings – Serenade (Romberg) – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 11

José Carreras Sings – Serenade (Romberg) – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 11

From the Concert : “With a Song In My heart, A Tribute to Mario Lanza”
1994, Royal Albert Hall – London
Part 11

Serenade (Sigmund Romberg)

José Carreras Sings – Granada (Lara) – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 15

José Carreras Sings – Granada (Lara) – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 15

From the Concert : “With a Song In My heart, A Tribute to Mario Lanza”
1994, Royal Albert Hall – London
Part 15

Granada (Agustín Lara)

Granada, tierra soñada por mí
mi cantar se vuelve gitano
cuando es para ti
mi cantar, hecho de fantasía
mi cantar, flor de melancolía
que yo te vengo a dar.
Granada, tierra ensangrentada
en tardes de toros.
mujer que conserva el embrujo
de los ojos moros.

De sueño rebelde y gitana
cubierta de flores
y beso tu boca de grana
jugosa manzana
que me habla de amores.

Granada, manola cantada
en coplas preciosas.
no tengo otra cosa que darte
que un ramo de rosas.

De rosas de suave fragancia
que le dieran marco
a la Virgen morena.

Granada, tu tierra está llena
de lindas mujeres,
de sangre y de sol.

José Carreras Sings – Beloved ; Be My Love (Brodszky) – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 12

José Carreras Sings – Beloved ; Be My Love (Brodszky) – “A tribute To Mario Lanza” Part 12

From the Concert : “With a Song In My heart, A Tribute to Mario Lanza”
1994, Royal Albert Hall – London
Part 12

Beloved (Nicholas Brodzsky)

Be My Love (Nicholas Brodzsky)

José Carreras Sings – Torna a Surriento (De Curtis) -”A tribute To Mario Lanza” (17)

José Carreras Sings – Torna a Surriento (De Curtis) -”A tribute To Mario Lanza” (17)

From the Concert : “With a Song In My heart, A Tribute to Mario Lanza”
1994, Royal Albert Hall – London
The Last Part
(Part 17)

Torna a Surriento (Ernesto de Curtis)

Vide ‘o mare quant’è bello!
spira tanta sentimento…
Comme tu, a chi tiene mente,
ca, scetato, ‘o faje sunná!

Guarda guá’ chisti ciardine,
siente sié’ sti sciure ‘arancio…
nu prufumo accussí fino,
dint”o core se ne va…

E tu dice: “Io parto, addio!”
T’alluntane da stu core…
Da la terra de ll’ammore,
tiene ‘o core ‘e nun turná?!

Ma nun mme lassá,
nun darme stu turmiento…
Torna a Surriento:
famme campá!…

Vide ‘o mare de Surriento
che tesore tene ‘nfunno:
Chi ha girato tutt”o munno,
nun ll’ha visto comm’a ccá!

Guarda, attuorno, sti Ssirene
ca te guardano ‘ncantate
e te vònno tantu bene:
Te vulessero vasá!…

E tu dice: “Io parto, addio!”
T’alluntane da stu core…
Da la terra de ll’ammore,
tiene ‘o core ‘e nun turná?!
——-
That´s the end of the Concert
Thanks for watch it

Mario Lanza Sings – AVE MARIA – José Carreras”A tribute To Mario Lanza” Last Part (18)

Mario Lanza Sings – AVE MARIA – José Carreras”A tribute To Mario Lanza” Last Part (18)

From the Concert : “With a Song In My heart, A Tribute to Mario Lanza”
1994, Royal Albert Hall – London
The Last Part

AVE MARIA

Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum,
benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus.
Sancta Maria mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.

——-
That´s the end of the Progam
Thanks for watch it

 

NOTE: One of Mario Lanza’s dreams was to endow a scholarship fund for young singers. That dream has become a reality. Today there is a MARIO LANZA MUSEUM in Phildelphia which has awarded over 178 scholarships to deserving young singers. For information, contact: The Mario Lanza Museum 416 Queen St. Philadelphia, PA 19147 TEL: (215) 468-3623

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