Mario Lanza's Secret, KASS 'Nessun Dorma!'

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2006-04-24 08:27

Fifty-one years ago, long before Luciano Pavarotti made it a household aria, Mario Lanza had recorded the great and demanding Nessun Dorma for the soundtrack of one of his movies. Serenade has a Fountainhead-like plot, except that the Dominique who wishes to destroy Roark-Lanza really means it, and only ever cultivated him with a view to destroying him, as she had destroyed a long line of artists before him just because they were talented and in danger of being successful. How had she done it? By sponsoring them, seducing them, declaring her undying love, securing their besotted devotion—and then, just when they were poised for a career breakthrough, dumping them ignominiously from a great height. When Roark-Lanza survives her attempt to wreck him thus, and shows every sign of having gotten over her and being on the comeback trail, she goes after him again. Impresario Vincent Price remarks, "I'm curious, my dear. It's not like you to work your victims over a second time." She (Joan Fontaine) responds, "Has it ever occurred to you that I might really love him?" Price, wryly: "Frankly, my dear, no, it hasn't." (Price has already commented to Lanza on Fontaine's predilection for buying up masterpieces just to hide them in dank cellars.) You will readily appreciate, dear reader, how it was fitting that melodramatic arias like Nessun Dorma should abound in Serenade. Damnably, Mario's rendering of it was below par.

Some context: Nessun Dorma is sung by the hero of the opera (Turandot), Calaf, after he has given correct answers to the notorious three riddles posed by the icy Princess Turandot to all her would-be suitors. He has thereby saved himself from the fate that befalls all who give wrong answers, execution (the opera begins with a hapless, failed wannabe being carted off to meet his demise). Calaf, however, has given the man-hating Turandot an out—if she can discover his name by dawn, he'll forfeit his life anyway. In the aria, he muses on the edict that Turandot has sent out: None shall sleep ["Nessun Dorma"] until his name is revealed, and looks forward to victory at dawn: "Vincero!" ("I shall conquer!")

For the benefit of those who might like to print this essay out and play the aria while following the lyrics, here they are:

Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o, Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che tremano d'amore
e di speranza.

(None must sleep! None must sleep!
And you, too, Princess,
in your cold room,
gaze at the stars
which tremble with love
and hope!)

Ma il mio mistero e chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun sapra!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo diro
quando la luce splendera!

(But my mystery is locked within me,
no-one shall know my name!
No, no, I shall say it as my mouth
meets yours when the dawn is breaking!)

Ed il mio bacio sciogliera il silenzio
che ti fa mia!

(And my kiss will break the silence
which makes you mine!)

Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincero!
Vincero, vincero!

(Vanish, o night!
Fade, stars!
At dawn I shall win!)

So just what was wrong with Mario's recording? Little things that cumulatively meant disappointment. He blares sharp (above the note) on the opening phrase; he breaks the vocal line in the first succession of High As ("bocca lo diro"); he mangles the pronunciation of "tramontate" in the second batch of High As; he is horribly sharp in the second two syllables of the first "Vincero"; he loses intensity on the penultimate, climactic note and veritably falls off the very last one. Those of us who love Lanza and know what he could have done with this aria have remonstrated with his ghost for years, "Dammit, Mario, why didn't you do a second take?!"

Well, blow me down with a High C, it turns out that he did. Or rather, he'd already done it. Yes, the take that was used in the movie and released on the soundtrack recording was a second take—that was much inferior to the first! In the first, there's still the occasional (slight) sharpness, but none of the other problems of the second parlay. As I've had occasion to remark elsewhere, in this glorious first attempt he kicks Principessa's cold ass to the other side of the moon, dramatically speaking; musically, it's a treat, with delightful rubati and an electrifying climax. As he alights on the last syllable of the penultimate Vincero! Mario is fair exulting, "Here I come, ready or not!" Then he duly "comes," orgasmically nailing the last Vincero! in a way that would drive a live audience delirious.

I played this take the other night to a live audience that included SOLO's resident esthetician, Peter Cresswell. His reaction? "Fuck! Where has that been all these years?!"

Like so many Mario (or Elvis, or anyone) treasures, it's been hidden away in the RCA vaults. But now it's out there, thanks to Damon Lanza Productions, who've released the Serenade soundtrack with the first take as well as the second. (Damon is Mario's son.) Write to dlanza622@comcast.net.

So why was the inferior second take the one that was released? Who knows?! Maybe it's the better voice/orchestra balance (they brought Mario's voice forward the second time). Maybe it's because the first take was under-bassed. Maybe it's because the second take deleted the rubati and galloped through the thing at a sizzling pace for a movie that was over-shot.

Or maybe Dominique Francon-Fontaine was in charge of the selections!


( categories: )

Welcome aboard, Debbie...

Jameson's picture

... now fuck off.

Nessun Dorma - Mario Lanza

miesque's picture

Just ran across this clip from the movie and read Lindsay Perigo's comments about Lanza's performance of Nessun Dorma.  All I can say is, I would like to know where I can purchase one of Mr. Perigo's recordings of this music, or perhaps a copy of the movie in which "he" sang it.  After 61 years, I must have somehow missed the fame of Mr. Perigo and his magnificent voice.  Too bad Mr. Perigo wasn't around when Caruso was alive.  I'm sure Mr. Caruso could have learned much from Mr. Perigo's vast knowledge.

Jerome LoMonaco

Laure Chipman's picture

Hi Mezzomom -
My roommate was Marilyn Winkler. Jerry sure was something. I was very lucky to go to ISU when he and Anne were there and giving recitals together; they were awesome.

Jerome LoMonaco

Mezzomom's picture

Hi!!  I was also a student of Jerry Lomonaco's at Illinois State University (as well as his wife, Anne!).  I was wondering who your roommate is?  I noticed your post about Jerry's singing!!  Ah, what a tough little man he was - such a passionate bulldog who loved his students and good naturedly badgered us into singing well!!

Danny Boy

Chris Cathcart's picture

Having been impressed by "Danny Boy" (set to the tune Londonderry Air) on the soundtrack to Miller's Crossing, I discovered that Lanza does a version of this.

(The delightful scene from the film)

The other take

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You can hear the lesser take of ND, the one that was released, here.

Hehe!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I knew you'd get it eventually, Sturm. Smiling

Another point of note - Mario is about the only one to do the phrase "sulla tua bocca lo diro" in one breath ... AND he lingers on the "lo."

Holy shit!

Tim S's picture

Just listened to the Mario version properly for the first time.

The last two "Vincero"s are positively spine tingling! Linz' description was right - "orgasmic" is the only word to describe the last one!

Bartolini

Lindsay Perigo's picture

It's a fine performance, but not my fave. A bit rushed, and the histrionics strike me as hammy rather than heartfelt, e.g. "che ti fa mia." Great top. Uncannily like Corelli.

Excellent

Laure Chipman's picture

Yes, I think that one's really first-rate, Scott!  Thanks for posting it.

Im curious as to what Linz

atlascott's picture

Im curious as to what Linz and the others on the list think of this:

Lando Bartolini's Nessun Dorma

I think its the best Ive heard so far.

Scott DeSalvo

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur!

Hidden Gem

Suma's picture

I'm referring to your post, Linz!


I don't care for opera as I don't know Italian or German, but after reading the background info, following with the lyrics was awesome. Thankyou!


BTW, the youtube video is gone, but I found Take 1 on google video - so everyone, enjoy it while it is there.


Suma

"Do what thy manhood bids thee do, from none but self expect applause..." Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (Source: www.wikipedia.org)

Beautiful things from a human voice!

Ed Hudgins's picture

Whether from Lanza or Pavarotti, Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" is one of the most beautiful things that can come from a human voice! Thanks for posting.

Thank you

Sandi's picture

It is wonderful to discover new appreciations and a bit of background information, is very welcome.

The tragedy of Carreras...

Daniel Walden's picture

...illustrates what can happen if a singer tries to sing roles for which he or she is unsuited. Carreras had one of the most beautiful lirico tenor voices of the century, ideally suited for roles such as Rudolfo in La Boheme or Cavaradossi in Tosca. However, he tried to sing roles written for a spinto tenor (a fuller, more "heroic" voice that can take more punishment), and ended up destroying his top register. The same thing happened to the great Giuseppe di Stefano many years ago. More singers would do well to follow the example of Leontyne Price, who still has nearly all of the glorious voice that made her the Met's finest soprano for several decades. She's eighty years old and still teaches master classes, although her last recital was about 6 years ago, where she apparently nailed a high B-flat at the end of "God Bless America."

KASS Cathcart

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Just for you I've restickied it!

Pavarotti vs. Lanza? Pav is the superior technician, but Lanza has by far the more beautiful voice and sings with much more KASS. (So, for that matter, does Carreras. Jose's problem lay in the loss of his upper register early on in his career, even before his terrible illness. But if you want to hear Carreras utterly glorious, listen to his early recital albums, or, say, his Tosca with Caballe.) I always say Mario is the rough diamond, Pavarotti the polished pebble.

Bottom line—Lanza at his best is better than anybody. But he was erratic. At his worst, he was worse than anybody. Smiling

Hey Linz

Chris Cathcart's picture

Isn't this the one thread on SOLO that's supposed to have a permanent sticky? Smiling

I see you mention the Pavarotti at the outset, and I know you must have commented on it exactly 358 times already, but . . . how do these two compare in your view? Should you draw up a listed ranking for this (and for related items -- greatest Lanza, greatest arias, etc.)?

I should mention that I'm not advanced enough in my listening to be able regularly to pick out one performance (symphonic, usually) as more preferable to another, unless the differences are big and obvious. But very early on in my classical listening, I could easily tell the superiority of a Pavarotti performance (well, the one on Decca's Essential Puccini, w/Mehta and LSO) to one from Carerras (on EMI's Euphoroc Classics, w/Alain Lombard and Strasbourg PO).

Was there a related thread around here on greatest sense-of-life romantic masterpieces?

Honestly you guys!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The address is in the article. This version, for reasons explained, is not commercially available. You can get it from dlanza622@earthlink.net Tell them Linz sent you. Smiling

I wonder if it could be

Duncan Bayne's picture

I wonder if it could be added to the 'purchase at Amazon' feature? I know Amazon sells music, I don't know if they sell digital downloads ... that said, I'd be happy to put up with buying a real physical CD if that's what it took to get a copy Eye

I have to agree.

Daniel Walden's picture

One of the things I lament about Lanza is that he was so inconsistent with the quality of his recordings. This one, although not at his peak, is certainly excellent. I'd still take the Corelli over it, but I think this one wins second place. Can you fix me up with a recording as well?

Absolutely beautiful,

Duncan Bayne's picture

Absolutely beautiful, Lindsay! I'd like to know where I can purchase an MP3 version of this recording, so I can add it to my collection (which already features a recording of Nessun Dorma, by Thomas Harper).

Ah, Kenny ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I knew there was a reason I hadn't banned you. Smiling

Ironically

Kenny's picture

I got it! My uncle in Canada was a great fan of Mario Lanza. Domingo is better technically but Lanza had more passion.

What insult will I get from Linz now?

PLEASE!! :-)

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Tell me that of the hundreds of SOLOists out there, after two and a half thousand reads, just one of you got this?? The difference between Domingo & Lanza is the difference between KASSless & SOLO respectively. Please, I need to know that someone grasps it. Just one understanding response will do!! Smiling

REVELATION!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

On some misguided thread or other in which the portentous Wagner was being eulogised, I turned down an invitation to go to London to hear Domingo appearing in one of Wagner's melodramatic marathons on the grounds that Dickie's meanderings were bad enough but combined with Domingo's "nasal squawkings" the invitation was one I simply could not NOT refuse. Now, for those genuinely interested in why I might have said "nasal squawkings" I present Exhibit A.

Conduct this experiment:

1) Play the Mario Lanza Nessun Dorma linked to on this thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

That will acclimatise you to a voice that is round, KASS, athletic & beautiful.

2) Then, play Domingo's Nessun Dorma here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

That will dismay you with a voice that is thin, KASSless, short-breathed (note the differences in the sustained high passages) & nasally ugly. Note how quickly Domingo falls off the last phrase, while Mario savours & nails it!

If you can't identify what I'm talking about from the very opening bars, you're stupid as well as deaf!! Smiling

Please report back! I'm excited to think that this is so clear an example of what I so often bang on about!! Smiling

Linz

Lanza Morio!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You get it!!

That "karate stance" is what I referred to in the article as "Here I come, ready or not!" Look out!!

It's comparable to a Babe Ruth home run, a Shaquille slam dunk, a Dan Carter penalty kick between the posts from the sideline half-way down the field ... set to music.

It's heroic, magnificent, KASS ... "the total passion for the total height."

Vincero!

Watched it a few more times.

Lanza Morio's picture

It just gets better. There are 3 parts that knock me down. The first is at 1:17 on the Emin9 where he sings "tua bocca lo diro" and then at 2:19 when he's bug-eyed singing "Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!" is just terrific. And then the final Vincero is magnifique as well. I like how he moves around on the stage. He goes into a karate stance now and then and generally blows around like a willow tree in the wind.

Damned right we need

Matt's picture

Damned right we need transcripts - and MP3s, if possible!

Lanza Moorio

Lanza Morio's picture

I like it! Smiling

Yes, go ahead.

Ross Elliot's picture

Yes, go ahead.

"If you need to "learn" about it, you'll never really get it."

Oh, I *get* it, alright. But it was *you* that said you could write those pieces standing on your head. Just because one has a sense of life response to something it doesn't mean a little background info isn't important as well.

So, up against the wall with you and get to it! Smiling

Ross ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Satchmo once said about rhythm, "You either got it or you ain't."

And he was right. Nothing to do with Platonism, just biological fact.

Same deal with responsiveness to the likes of Mario. If you need to "learn" about it, you'll never really get it. I recall how he grabbed me by the balls when I was 9. No lessons necessary. His voice, passion and interpretative intelligence spoke for themselves. All one needs to do is listen with one's brain (and heart) engaged, unencumbered by the pomo-wanking cultural blinkers Lance referred to.

Over a period of years I did a series for National Radio called Singers of Renown, covering every serious singer under the sun. Cresswell has reel-to-reel tapes of many of those programmes. Would you like me to put up transcripts? Smiling

Let's go back to the top.

Ross Elliot's picture

Let's go back to the top.

I said:

"I enjoyed reading this, Lindsay. And now I'll enjoy listening to the opera even more. You should do more of this type of article."

To which, Lindsay replied:

"...Ross—I could do these pieces standing on my head, but I don't detect much demand."

Well, here's your demand: *I'd* like to learn more.

KASS me, Lindsay!

[Ross searches for Sinatra's rendition of Nessun Dorma...]

Lanza Moorio!!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Linz, the video for Lanza's Nessun Dorma doesn't come up from the link in your first post. I only found it after badgering Ross about it. Here it is:
Lanza Video - Nessun Dorma

I've replaced (or at least Geek Julian has) the brief audio attachment that originally accompanied my article with the video link.

I've watched it a bunch of times now and have been singing it around the house. You call tell the guy is half-nuts before he sings his first note. If you can be that intense and remain on this side of crazy then you've found the secret of life. NEEEEESSSun DOOOORRRRma

If that be insanity, let there be a surfeit of it! Smiling

Linzio

Memories

Laure Chipman's picture

This inspired me to go through my boxes and find an old opera tape from my college days.

Here's the end of Nessun Dorma by my roommate's voice teacher, Jerome LoMonaco (ignore the bad piano):

Jerome singing Nessun Dorma

He wasn't Mario Lanza, but it at least gives ME a special thrill, since he was one singer I got to hear live and in person on several occasions.

[edited by Rossio]

Wow.

Prima Donna's picture

That one definitely scored on the goosebump-o-meter. I need a moment.



Jennifer


-- Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Vincero!

Lanza Morio's picture

Derek, thanks for the link. I can see myself as a full-fledge member of the Lanza Club one day. This was a good introduction to opera because I sort of understand what's going on with this.

Linz, the video for Lanza's Nessun Dorma doesn't come up from the link in your first post. I only found it after badgering Ross about it. Here it is:

Lanza Video - Nessun Dorma

I've watched it a bunch of times now and have been singing it around the house. You call tell the guy is half-nuts before he sings his first note. If you can be that intense and remain on this side of crazy then you've found the secret of life. Smiling NEEEEESSSun DOOOORRRRma

MJ: Sadly, I wouldn't say

Derek McGovern's picture

MJ: Sadly, I wouldn't say that Lanza was still "a big thing" in New Zealand, though there a few of us here who never miss the opportunity to promote him Smiling Check out http://freeradical.co.nz/lanza for more info. But you're right about Lanza not being appreciated in the country of his birth; in fact, these days his CDs sell far better in the UK than they do in the US.

I don't feel that Peter Jackson captured the essence of Lanza in that film. The recordings he chose were disappointing, and the actor he used to portray Lanza in the dream sequence was a far cry from the real thing.

Bravo, Lanza-Lance!

Derek McGovern's picture

Lance: I'm thrilled that someone else here has grasped the essence of Lanza! As a follow-up, I suggest you check out this wonderful Lanza rendition of Granada. It's a video clip from one of his films & captures not only the vocal excitement of the man, but his charisma as well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

I hadn’t heard of Mario

MJ's picture

I hadn’t heard of Mario Lanza until I saw the movie “Heavenly Creatures”. Is Lanza still a big thing in New Zealand? There are many great artists from the States who never got due respect at home, yet have huge fan bases abroad.

Lance/Lanza!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Lance—did you know your name *is* Lanza?? Smiling

This is my first "Lanza" experience. Two observations:
1. This guy truly sings his heart out. I can't think of another artist right now who puts so much of himself on the line with a performance.

That's because there isn't one! Smiling "I sing each word as though it were my last on earth."

2. An American kid used to watching The Brady Bunch and South Park has a cultural hurdle to jump over if he is to "get" where Lanza is coming from. Linz, I do get where you and Lanza are coming from and I'll look into it more. Thanks!

My pleasure entirely! And yes, of course there's a cultural hurdle to overcome. That's the point!! Smiling

Linz

Lanza

Lanza Morio's picture

This is my first "Lanza" experience. Two observations:

1. This guy truly sings his heart out. I can't think of another artist right now who puts so much of himself on the line with a performance.

2. An American kid used to watching The Brady Bunch and South Park has a cultural hurdle to jump over if he is to "get" where Lanza is coming from. Linz, I do get where you and Lanza are coming from and I'll look into it more.

Thanks!

Wonderful

Peter Cresswell's picture

The lip-synching doesn't match, but it's wonderful nonetheless. Thanks 'Vince.'

Yes, check it out! Vince has

Derek McGovern's picture

Yes, check it out! Vince has done Lanza - and this movie - proud, and after you've watched this clip, why not check out some of the 50-plus other Lanza film moments that he's posted at the same site. These include a live E Lucevan le Stelle that will have Peter Cresswell's pulse racing, the amazing Monologue from Otello, and just about every other Lanza film highlight imaginable.

NB!!!!!!!!!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I've restored this to blue to tell you that a Lanzaphile by the name of Vince di Placido has "matched" this take of Nessun Dorma to the scene in the movie Serenade in which Lanza lip-synchs to the other take. Therefore, of course, the lip-synching doesn't match, but Vince covers a lot of it up with very cleverly selected snippets from other parts of the movie that match the lyrics or pulse or both of what Mario is singing.

Click here for the full experience.

Misanthrope's Corner

JoeM's picture

Interesting article. Frustrating, though, because the reviewer doesn't discuss the actual music as much as the lyrics. Still, it's funny to see my grandparent's generation criticized for THEIR popular music!

Note!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Conclusion to the aria now attached.

Ross, you're full of it ... :-)

Lindsay Perigo's picture

They won't come. Pearls before swine. And you know it.

But I'll try to build anyway. Here's something written by someone else of like mind that I read just tonight. The key words are, "Arturo Toscanini called Mario Lanza 'the greatest voice of the twentieth century,' but he was much more. Those presently engaged in a Diogenean search for heroes should stop and reflect that Lanza was the only person in the history of the world to succeed in elevating teenage musical tastes. He did it, moreover, without creating snobs."

I repeat: "Those presently engaged in a Diogenean search for heroes should stop and reflect that Lanza was the only person in the history of the world to succeed in elevating teenage musical tastes."

Now here's the full article:

______________________________________________________

The Misanthrope's Corner

National Review; 10/23/1995; Florence King

AS the culture war heats up and the attacks on Hollywood decadence mount in anticipation of the 1996 election, I find myself remembering the Hollywood that started me off on the road to cultural polish.

The memories are especially poignant at this time of year. On October 7, 1959, I was devastated by a newspaper headline: "Mario Lanza Dies in Rome." My first crush, the man who had aroused my romantic and musical passions in such exquisite tandem that I could not tell one from the other, was dead at 38.

The young now ask: Who was Mario Lanza? Born Alfredo Cocozza in Philadelphia, his powerful tenor voice and extraordinary good looks won him the title role in The Great Caruso in 1951. His success began in the hearts of teenage girls but it went straight to the heart of something much deeper. As a music critic of the time put it: "Mario Lanza is the symbol of America's cultural democracy." Because of him, anyone who was in high school in the early Fifties stands an excellent chance of being an opera lover regardless of background or education.

My own story is typical. I was born into the class that no one admits to: the lower middle. People brag about being poor but nobody brags about punching two holes in a can of Carnation evaporated milk and calling it coffee cream.

My family's musical tastes were what you might expect, only worse. My father, a free-lance musician who had played the banjo in speakeasies during Prohibition, was fixated on the popular tunes of the Twenties. His favorite shaving song was "Don't Bring Lulu," which he sang while conducting a contest with himself to see if he could arrive at his upper lip when he hit the line, "You can bring Rose with the turned-up nose."

My mother, who grew up in World War I, was partial to "We Don't Want the Bacon, We Just Want a Piece of the Rhine," and that anthem to the orally challenged, "K-K-K-Katie." (She also knew the sequel, "Sthop Your Sthutterin', Thimmy.")

But it wasn't all Tin Pan Alley pep. My grandmother favored us with lugubrious Victorian ballads about fallen women who realized, too late, the error of their ways when a letter edged in black was delivered to the brothel: "And sadder she seems/When of Mother she dreams/In the mansion of aching hearts."

I was less than transported, and growing up in the Forties didn't help. When "Mairzy Doats" came out I decided that I hated music.

To people like us, opera was music for rich people, music to laugh at, the subject of cartoons about fat ladies in horned helmets. But then along came Mario Lanza, with his deep dimples, burning black eyes, and crystal-shattering high Cs. His first two movies were musicals containing some opera, but The Great Caruso pulled out all the stops. The film was saturated with the major tenor arias in the Italian repertoire, plus the sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor, the quartet from Rigoletto, and the final duet from Aida.

Lanza hit me like whiskey hits . . . well, you know. I saw The Great Caruso over and over. My favorite part was the Rigoletto aria whose first line sounded like "the doughnut is moppylay." Wanting to know what it meant but having no one to ask, I got The Victor Book of Operas from the library and learned that it was "La Donna e Mobile": woman is fickle.

In this way I pieced out the name of every aria and ensemble piece in the movie, and learned the plots of all the operas. I spent my modest allowance on Lanza's records (among the last 78 rpms), but soon the tenor arias were not enough; I wanted to hear whole operas. Thanks to the craze Lanza had started, they were being recorded on the newly invented long-playing records. We didn't have an LP phonograph so I listened to them in the public library, sitting for hours in the stuffy little audio room, following the librettos. By this time I was in fourth-year French so the Italian made sense; I learned to pronounce it and acquired a small vocabulary.

This sounds like weird-kid behavior, a specialty of mine, but for once I was a conformist.

All the other girls had crushes on Lanza too, so everybody was into opera. We sang the easy-to-carry "M'appari" from Martha in the gym locker room, and even tried the famous tour de force from Pagliacci, laughing and sobbing so maniacally that the teacher came running in to see what was wrong.

Arturo Toscanini called Mario Lanza "the greatest voice of the twentieth century," but he was much more. Those presently engaged in a Diogenean search for heroes should stop and reflect that Lanza was the only person in the history of the world to succeed in elevating teenage musical tastes. He did it, moreover, without creating snobs. Although my generation were products of a decade notorious for status seeking, having a crush on an opera singer pointed us toward the higher goal of self-improvement. Inspired by girlish passion, we earned our status the old-fashioned way: we "bettered" ourselves.

Today I am a fair connoisseur of opera, knowing what to listen for in important spots, such as the end of "Di Quella Pira," and, after sufficient martinis, able to sing "Alerte!" from Faust -- quite a feat, since it's a trio. I've come a long way from "We'll crown Bill the Kaiser with a bottle of Budweiser," and I owe it all to Mario Lanza.

A candle always flares up before it goes out: after Lanza, the next teenage idol was Elvis.

Our entertainment is now so debased that it will take more than election-year growls from Bob Dole to set it right. We have carried egalitarianism to such a maniacal extreme that we now regard beauty as an affront. The national anthem must be sung at ballgames by tone-deaf croakers, and actresses with classical faces have been replaced by cross-eyed Karen Black and pop-eyed Susan Sarandon. ...

Build it & they will come

Ross Elliot's picture

Build it & they will come Smiling

Thanks chaps ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Julian & Ross—I could do these pieces standing on my head, but I don't detect much demand. Smiling

Buy it

Peter Cresswell's picture

If you love music, you do need this in your collection. Note the contact information: "...now it's out there, thanks to Damon Lanza Productions, who've released the Serenade soundtrack with the first take as well as the second. (Damon is Mario's son.) Write to dlanza622@comcast.net."

"Or Elvis, or anyone"? Not for me, thanks. Smiling

This is a wonderful piece of

Derek McGovern's picture

This is a wonderful piece of writing, Linz, and I love the way you've juxtaposed the Serenade plot with that of The Fountainhead. You've also reminded me of how good some of the dialogue is in Serenade!

Well written Linz

JulianD's picture

Just a quick note of agreement with Ross. I enjoyed the article immensely and I hope that Lindsay can find the time to write more like this. THIS is what SOLO is about. Bravo!

I enjoyed reading this,

Ross Elliot's picture

I enjoyed reading this, Lindsay. And now I'll enjoy listening to the opera even more. You should do more of this type of article.

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