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Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza

jofield 27 Sep 00 - 11:57 PM
NH Dave 28 Sep 00 - 12:30 AM
Barbara 28 Sep 00 - 02:01 AM
Escamillo 28 Sep 00 - 02:14 AM
Lena 28 Sep 00 - 02:35 AM
Escamillo 28 Sep 00 - 02:45 AM
The Shambles 28 Sep 00 - 02:57 AM
M.Ted 28 Sep 00 - 03:11 AM
Steve Parkes 28 Sep 00 - 03:34 AM
SINSULL 28 Sep 00 - 08:58 AM
MMario 28 Sep 00 - 04:48 PM
mousethief 28 Sep 00 - 05:06 PM
Don Firth 28 Sep 00 - 06:56 PM
Joe Offer 28 Sep 00 - 07:05 PM
DougR 28 Sep 00 - 07:22 PM
rabbitrunning 28 Sep 00 - 07:37 PM
jofield 28 Sep 00 - 11:15 PM
GUEST,johnny 06 Jun 01 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Adolfo 07 Jun 01 - 04:12 AM
LR Mole 07 Jun 01 - 12:16 PM
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Subject: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: jofield
Date: 27 Sep 00 - 11:57 PM

The other day the name Mario Lanza came up, so I went to a forum dedicated to the late singer, and posted the following:

I recently looked up Enrico Caruso in an "Encyclopedia of Opera and Operetta" I have and found that Mario Lanza had played Caruso in a film bio. So I looked up Mario Lanza -- no entry. So I went to a book called "Opera in America" -- no mention. So I went to the Encyclopedia Britannica (1990) -- NOTHING. Now, I know that Lanza was almost exclusively a concert and film performer and took part in very few fully-staged operas, if any. My understanding is that he always had a bit of an inferiority complex when it came to acting and interacting with other singers in front of a live audience. Is this why all these "authoritative" sources exclude him? If so, it seems a real slighting of history. I would be interested in your reactions.

I was roundly ignored -- I have a feeling they were sensitive types who thought I was joining the opera mavens in belittling their hero. But in fact, I *was* genuinely astounded that Lanza isn't even mentioned in any of these sources. Knowing that Mudcatters are much less sensitive, and figuring there might be a couple of opera experts in the crowd, I ask the same question: has Mario Lanza been blackballed by all serious music authorities, simply because he went to Hollywood and made butt-loads of money? Because he certainly could sing. Anyone got an opinion?


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: NH Dave
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 12:30 AM

There's a brief biography on http://www.biography.com mentioning his dates, 1921 - 1959, The Great Caruso, and a general lack of personal and professional discipline resulting in his death at 38 from a heart attack.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: Barbara
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 02:01 AM

I have a very vague memory that it had something to do with "The Student Prince". I have a cousin who is a huge fan of ML, and I seem to recall him regaling me with some story about that movie.
Anyone?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: Escamillo
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 02:14 AM

In this site: Click here you will find an interesting article regarding the reasons why Mario was never a star in the Opera world, but rather in cinema. I would add a very humble personal opinion: if he had such luck of discipline as a singer, as it is mentioned, I guess that all great doors of the Opera closed for him, no matter how valuable was his voice. On the other hand, we have to agree that some glitches and exaggerations were a negative factor, and his performance is far below that of the great tenors like Nicolai Gedda, Franco Corelli, Alfredo Kraus, Giuseppe Di Stefano and many contemporary artists who are not only owners of extraordinary voices, but are models of disciplined work. Once again, serious dedication becomes the most important companion of a good voice.

And in this one: Click here there are some good WAV samples of songs and opera excerpts. Excellent indeed, but .. it seems to not have been enough.

Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: Lena
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 02:35 AM

Mamma mia.


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: Escamillo
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 02:45 AM

oh, Mamma mia is easy. I can sing it too. :))


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 02:57 AM

My mum loved him and used to take me with her to the cinema, to watch all those 'orrible' films.


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 03:11 AM

There is a Mario Lanza Museum in Philadelphia (his home town), as well as a nice little park, with a bronze bust, just around the corner from the Settlement Music School.

For what it is worth, I remember that Armand DiStefano once featured a segment on Lanza on his radio program, and spoke well of him, and his talent. In Philly, there are some who claim that Lanza's "heart attack" was induced by a gangster who he had crossed in some way that I no longer remember--


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 03:34 AM

I remember in 1956 or '7 at the tender age of 5, Iwas in hospital waitng to have my tonsils out. I had the nurses in fits (to my bewilderment) with my version of "Drink, drink, drink to eyes that are ..." (whatever it's called!)

My voice has never been the same since that operation!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: SINSULL
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 08:58 AM

BEEE MYYY LOOOOOVE...


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: MMario
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 04:48 PM

I'm actually named after him (My mom adored his singing)

MMario


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: mousethief
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 05:06 PM

Who are you calling insensitive?

Alex
O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 06:56 PM

As a teen-ager, before I became interested in folk music I was an opera bug (weird kid) and I went so far as to take some lessons from a retired soprano who had sung with the Metropolitan Opera (not one of the biggies--she sang small "comprimario" roles--but at sixty-some-odd her voice was still impressive). Mario Lanza was going strong at the time in Hollywood and on the pop charts. I asked Mrs. Bianchi what she thought of him. She said, in effect:

"At least two factors go into making a singing voice: one is the instrument you are born with; the other is your musicianship--how well you play your instrument. Take Jan Peerce, for example. His instrument is very good--not a Stradivarius or a Guarnieri--very good, nonetheless. Peerce's musicianship, on the other hand, is not just good, it is superb. The taste and refinement with which he sings puts him in the ranks of the world's finest tenors. Like a good violin being played by a great vituoso.

"Now, Mario Lanza: a voice his comes along very rarely. It's like one of the finest violins that Stradivari or a Guarnieri ever made. A magnificent instrument. Truly, a gift from God. But his musicianship? He has take a few lessons, but nowhere near enough. He refuses to take advice and he doesn't take care of his voice properly. Because of his lack of training, his placement is sporadic and he frequently lets it sink into his chest, then he pushes, which is why he sings sharp much of the time. And he often sings arias that are too heavy for his type of tenor. If he keeps on like this, he will burn that marvelous voice out very quickly. In short, Mario Lanza's voice is like a Stradivarius being played by a baboon!"

Lanza was slated to play "The Student Prince," and he had already recorded the voice tracks, but he weighed over 300 pounds at the time. The Powers That Be at the studio told him that if he was going to play the handsome, dashing young prince, he had to lose weight, and a LOT of it. He refuse, so they gave the role to Edmond Purdom. Purdom lip-synced to Lanza's voice.

Lanza's only real operatic experience consisted of two performances of "Madam Butterfly" in New Orleans, to promote the movie "The Toast of New Orleans." It's one thing recording a bunch of arias, but it's a whole different ball game to sing an entire opera. The Metropolitan, nor any other opera company, will hire someone on the basis of their ability to sing a few arias. You have to know the entire role. Several roles, in fact, before they'll ever consider you. You can win the Metropolitan Auditions on the basis of a few well-sung arias, but unless you have a repertoire of entire operas, you won't be appearing on stage for awhile. They train you first. Mario Lanza didn't have a repertoire of full-length operas and he was not willing to take training that the Met would have insisted upon--and that he really needed.

So Mario Lanza, probably the most famous operatic tenor of the twentieth century (even eclipsing Enrico Caruso in terms of those who heard him--via movies and records), was not really an opera singer at all. Sad.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 07:05 PM

You'll often find interesting biographies at www.allmusicguide.com (click)
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: DougR
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 07:22 PM

Don, you nailed it down. He had a beautiful voice but didn't take care of it, or himself. Concert promoters were leery of booking him because he was so unreliable.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: rabbitrunning
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 07:37 PM

Neat website, Joe.

He may (to be generous) also have just gotten a lot of bad advice. My mom's favorite artist from the early forties is the almost unknown Dorothy Maynor, who did some opera and gospel. (Mom heard her in concert and she did spirituals for encores that Mom said were the best she ever heard them sung.) What little I've been able to find out about her seems to indicate that she got pushed into doing a lot of concerts early on, and didn't get the voice training that would have preserved her talent because the people getting her the performance venues wanted to make their money quickly.

AMG has her as "rock" for genre, but I don't think they've actually heard the music. Think along the lines of Marian Anderson and you're closer.


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: jofield
Date: 28 Sep 00 - 11:15 PM

Don Firth, many thanks. You have answered my question, which was not about Lanza's history, which I knew in its basics, but about how the various opera reference books could ignore him. Especially when he was originally "discovered" and brought to Tanglewood by none other than Serge Koussevitsky. But now I think I understand: to serious chroniclers of opera, he was not a true opera singer, so he is excluded from their listings. I *am* surprised at the Britannica, however, which lists Elvis and Frank Sinatra -- seems to me a mention of Mario Lanza would have been in order.

James


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: GUEST,johnny
Date: 06 Jun 01 - 02:09 PM

For me, Mario Lanza has the most magnificent voice of all times. His songs were powerfull, passionated and he sings from the heart.


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: GUEST,Adolfo
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 04:12 AM

I agree with everything you've said. When I was a child, my father helped a friend who was broke by purchasing as many records as he could from his collection (not that my family was well-off, but the poor guy deserved some help). Two LPs by Lanza were included in the lot and that's how I discovered him, back in the mid 60's. I was fascinated by his E lucevan le stelle, Furtiva lacchrima and so on. As it happens with Pavarotti, one may think that this is not really opera, but Pavarotti's Turandot remains unchallenged, or so I think.


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Subject: RE: Mario Lanza...yes, Mario Lanza
From: LR Mole
Date: 07 Jun 01 - 12:16 PM

It all sounds familiar: great classical chops but unwilling to formally train; physically attractive but lacking self-control; phenominally gifted but willing to settle for momentary commercial popularity. Old story, and probably unreeling again right now.
(That's "Drink, drink, drink, to eyes that are bright as stars when they're shining on me..." Stop me or I'll type the whole thing. )


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