Comets in Our Twilight, 4—Mario Lanza

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2013-08-26 06:21

The One Tenor is a labor of love for life-long Mario Lanza devotee, New Zealand radio and television broadcaster Lindsay Perigo. It's the bringing together of his best Lanza-related essays, critiques and interviews over the years, with significant new material exclusive to this book, including Perigo's take on the theory that Mario Lanza suffered from Bipolar Disorder. This theory was first touted in the biography of Lanza by Roland Bessette, with little explication. In The One Tenor Perigo interviews Bessette, who elaborates on his theory for the first time. Perigo responds in his stellar chapter, "Mario's Magic Madness."

The author stresses in his Introduction that The One Tenor is not a biography, but a chance to meet the overpoweringly charismatic Mario of screen and record who, in Perigo's opinion, has somewhat eluded biographers hitherto. Perigo argues that the uniqueness of Lanza lay in both his voice and soul, and that any portrait that fails to capture the latter is significantly incomplete. Soul abounds in The One Tenor.

The book is exceptional for its musical literacy. Perigo uses his own background as a singing student and connoisseur of voices to maximum advantage. In his time as a broadcaster, Perigo presented a series for New Zealand's National Radio called Singers of Renown, devoted to the great recordings of all great voices. He conducted extended interviews with Joan Sutherland, Sir Donald MacIntyre, Dame Malvina Major, Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras, Licia Albanese and Anna Moffo, along with Mario Lanza's conductor and accompanist, Constantine Callinicos. (The Callinicos, Moffo and Carreras interviews are on YouTube.) His wealth of knowledge about the vocal art permeates this entire collection.

Among the diverse features of The One Tenor are Perigo's critiques of several Lanza CD releases of recent times, including the very latest, out just this month, Mario Lanza—The Toast of Hollywood. Youngsters studying voice will find Perigo's observations about Lanza's technique and style illuminating, but these observations are not so technical as to baffle the layman.

Perigo's insights into Lanza are further informed by his friendship for many years with Mario's son, the late Damon Lanza, of whom Perigo writes movingly here in Remembering a Buddy.

Another gracious feature of the book is that Perigo makes way for another Lanza-buddy and internet radio personality, Jeff Rense, to write a touching guest-memoir.

The One Tenor boasts two Forewords, both by outstanding singers: Perigo's compatriot, pre-eminent contemporary Wagnerian tenor Simon O'Neill, and one of the Irish Tenors now enjoying a distinguished solo career, Honorary President of Lanza Legend (see, Anthony Kearns. Both speak glowingly of being awed and inspired by Mario Lanza.

Coinciding as it does with the release of the new CD capturing what Perigo calls simply "The Voice" in some of its most dazzling performances, The One Tenor is a worthy addition to the Lanza literature and timely salute to Mario's magnificent voice and spirit.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

The interview with Mr. Rense...

Olivia's picture

is just wonderful. What a joy to listen to you two talk so passionately about Mario and his music. His voice is so frighteningly loaded with feeling - a miracle he could control it at all! The "Tell Me Tonight" is utterly overwhelming and the "Danny Boy" is pure gold. What an artistic giant.

Me on Jeff Rense again

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Golfing champ inspired by Mario

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The Oft-derided Passion of Genius

Olivia's picture

My review on Amazon:

This book is a testament to the passion of a love that can only be felt for a great hero who deserves it.

There's no doubt about it, Mario Lanza had a heroic soul which was not only expressed through the use of his magnificent voice, but also his larger-than-life star quality presence in the flesh. The One Tenor resurrects Lanza from his untimely death on every page. The author, Lindsay Perigo, knows what he is talking about in this beautiful tribute to a man who oozed fervor from every pore. All too often people are hasty to either be critical of genius, or bestow the label willy-nilly on anyone with half a talent. The word "genius" befits Lanza like no other, due to his natural musical instinct, his ability to master the power of a god-like voice and his bold determination to share his gift with the world - and be recognized for it!

To know him was to love him. Those who did testify to the fact that Lanza was an electrifying force of affectionate, friendly, fun-loving, intelligence with a super-abundance of life coursing through his veins. In a word, he was exhilarating to be near.

With such a mighty personality as this, and coupled with so great a talent, it is little wonder that there are those who try to relegate Lanza to the Bi-polar Disorder camp - here we go with the criticizing genius penchant! Mr. Perigo conducts a written interview with Roland Bessette, who himself wrote a biography on Lanza titled "Mario Lanza - Tenor in Exile" back in 1999. In this interview (and his book), Mr. Bessette lays forth his reasons as to why he considers Lanza to have suffered from chronic Bi-polar Disorder. I'll let the reader make up his/her own mind on this one, but I will say that "passionate genius" will usually be labeled as some kind of disorder or another by laymen who lack both passion and genius.

One of the most touching chapters in this tribute was written by Jeff Rense whose grandfather knew Lanza personally. Suffice it to say that his tender account brought me to tears.

Lindsay Perigo has carried off this tribute to Lanza so faithfully that I can only say that if Mario could see it, he would consider Perigo one of the greatest allies a man could have. He sure could've done with such a friendship during the darker hours of his extraordinary life.

Caruso Honored

seddon's picture

"The International Astronomical Union (IAU) — the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919 — recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to 10 impact craters on Mercury. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after “deceased artists, musicians, painters, and authors who have made outstanding or fundamental contributions to their field and have been recognized as art historically significant figures for more than 50 years.”

One so honored was the singer Caruso, or as a friend of mine used to refer to him, "Hammering Hank."

The IAU included the folloiwng blurb: "Caruso, for Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), an Italian tenor who sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and the Americas and appeared in a wide variety of roles from the Italian and French repertoires that ranged from the lyric to the dramatic."



gregster's picture

An error Lindsay pointed out. I trusted the linked source. It was nearer 2.5 million. Still wonderful.

Death of Joan Fontaine

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The great actress Joan Fontaine has died, at the age of 96. Among the photos used in this article is one of her, Mario and Vincent Price, from Serenade:

Fontaine, O'Toole ... the links with civilised values are vanishing as civilisation itself does.

King of Kings

gregster's picture



Mario was the first recording artist to sell 25 million copies of an album. Mario Lanza's influence on Elvis Presley cannot be overestimated. Presley was well aware of Lanza’s music and movies and was always quick to acknowledge his admiration for Lanza.


Incredible as it might seem, his favourite [artist] was Mario Lanza. Elvis played the soundtrack album from MGM's "The Student Prince" so often that he wore out the grooves. Lanza's delivery of such songs as Golden Days, I'll Walk with God, and Serenade had such an impact on Presley that he went on to mimic the style in his own impending songs, including the ballad Can't Help Falling In Love and the operatic It's Now or Never.

Elvis said of Lanza
in 1972: ‘I had records by Mario Lanza when I was 17, 18 years old. I would listen to The Metropolitan Opera. I just loved this music.’
Mario Lanza, meanwhile – real name Alfredo Arnold Cocozza, 1921-1959 – was a fantastically popular opera tenor and movie star.
Maria Callas called him the greatest tenor voice of the day. Arturo Toscanini called him the greatest voice of the 20th century.

A friend, Clinton Bowerman, from Auckland, has just visited Elvis Presley’s old home Graceland, and thanks to his own private investigator background, his shots prove Mario Lanza remains at the front of the Elvis record stack.









Glowing review of new CD

Lindsay Perigo's picture

54th anniversary of Mario's death ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... today, October 7. Rest in peace, beautiful soul.

Sam Samuelian on Amazon

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Veteran Lanza aficionado Sam Samuelian has just posted this:

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended For Both Neophytes and Experts on Lanza October 6, 2013

By Samuel M. Samuelian, Jr.

Amazon Verified Purchase

This is a must read for anyone interested in Mario Lanza. I'm a longtime fan and thought I knew a lot about him but this book surprisingly enlightened even me. Lindsay writes beautifully and with great clarity. And he does not mince words---it's all straight from the hip. Note that late in the book there is an incredibly fascinating exchange between Lindsay and Mario Lanza author Roland Bessette who first proposed that Mario was likely bipolar. I was shaking when I stopped reading it since it came so close to home with my own bipolar hell. What they said was not only thought provoking but also revelatory. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. And it's a bargain!

Peter Cresswell on Amazon

Lindsay Perigo's picture

“The only man never to be redeemed," said Ayn Rand, "is the man without passion.”

In invoking (and evoking) Lanza's passion as the core of his soul and the driving force of his art, Lindsay Perigo rescues Lanza's exuberant soul and life-affirming art from the attacks of pedants and the blindness of the soul destroyed, redeeming his memory and offering abundant evidence that the work of The One Tenor is still the standard by which all others should be judged.

A wonderfully redemptive read.

There may not be many reviews there yet, but when they're of this quality, I can't complain! Eye


Lindsay Perigo's picture

I have passed that on verbatim! Eye

Thanks, Linday! You are an amiable chum...

WDonway's picture

Yeah, ask the Web Master if the gantlet run by members needs to be so daunting--from getting kicked to the Google ad when you hit "contact" to be warned that your proposed password is not unhackable.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

I wondered where you'd got to! Every new user is moderated till I unmoderate him/her—stops the spambots getting on. Your new account is now unmoderated so you can post freely. Don't know why you had the other problems. I'll draw the webmaster's attention to them. Welcome back! Was missing you already! Smiling

AM I Being Blocked?

WDonway's picture

I hope that Lindsay or the administrator gets this, eventually.

I came to SOLO and was required to log on. I couldn't get my ID and password right, so I requested that a new password be sent, but one did not arrive at my Gmail. I tried to do a "contact" but all I got was a ad for Google and a notice that said, "Google is not your default browser." I finally created a whole new account as Walter R. Donway. But the site is still not allowing me to post.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

Thanks for that. I went there and saw there'd been a number of new posts since I last visited.

I guess your next thing will be the review on Amazon? Eye Clearly "Brian" won't be doing one. Can anyone make sense of his behaviour? Just when I think I've seen everything, someone comes along to confound and dumbfound me.


gregster's picture

I've placed a link to The One Tenor at your Callinicos interview vid.


TV interview

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Here's my recent appearance on The Beat Goes On talking about The One Tenor and the meaning of life:


Lindsay Perigo's picture

Right-ho dear. Eye I'll post them on that thread. Busy for a couple of days, but after that ...

More clear to me than ever that this enterprise is necessary.


tvr's picture

Just goes to show how naïve I can be sometimes. It never crossed my mind to think of "self-ended" as sexual.

Naturally I am most keen to hear your alternative terms.



Lindsay Perigo's picture

In reply to Brian's rather odd—one might almost say queer—post you admonish him to take the "selffulness" discussion to your own thread. "Brian" has since morphed into someone called "John Liam Galt," removed his photo, deleted one of his main (and most pertinent) threads and seemingly become SOLO-hostile. I'm not sure what to make of any of it, save the obvious explanation of severe flakiness. In any event, I was against "self-endedness" for reasons "Brian" made graphically clear, before he did so. I'm mulling a couple of other terms which I'm happy to mention on your thread if you're still keen.

Noel Tyl on Mario

gregster's picture




Great response from Martino

Sam Pierson's picture

Great response from Martino Linz.


tvr's picture

Rather than sullying this thread, perhaps you will see sense in re-posting your comment here and deleting the one below. I will only reply to it there, and only if you repost it. To follow through would be quite self-ended of you.


Paradise for Self-Enders

RationalMan's picture

Judging by all the exposed, up-arching buttocks on the website, there will be a lot of Selfending taking place at the Best Gay Resort in the World where I think they have other things in mind besides listening to Mario Lanza.

In fact, I heard a rumor that many Hollywood stars Selfend at Island House when they are in Miami, and some even enjoy being Selfended.

It is unknown if any Objectivist men have Selfended at Island House but according to a 2005 survey by Self-Enders Magazine, only 10% of gay Objectivist men are sexually active and most of these men are chronic self-pleasurers, preferring self over others. This number is in stark contrast to the gay population at large where 100% of gay men are active.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

By regular forum contributor, Martino:

I have read the short, recently published Kindle book by Lindsay Perigo titled, "The One Tenor". It should be pointed out that this is not intended to be a biography of Mario Lanza, but a compilation of recording critiques and reviews, essays and interviews conducted through the years (some go back decades) by Perigo, a New Zealand journalist and media personality. More than that, it is a hodgepodge of opinions, evaluations and assessments on Lanza's music, career and life. As such, there is no real beginning, middle or end, with the emphasis seemingly to be portraying a correlation between Lanza's art and life than any kind of chronological story telling.

Perigo explores the musical aspects of this extraordinarily talented singer in a way few others have. He detects every subtlety found in the many Lanza recordings he talks about and is as quick to pass harsh judgement as he is to praise. His approach is a balanced one of merit and demerit.

One of the highlights of the book is Perigo's recent interview with Roland Bessette, author of the Lanza biography, "Tenor in Exile". I would have expected a typical, go for the throat Perigo attack of Bessett's theory that Lanza suffered a bi-polar disorder, a notion Perigo rejects in his retort section, "Mario's Magic Madness". However, the question and answer went back in forth between the two in a rather gentlemanly like manner. The Q&A was fascinating, not to mention a pleasure to read such elegant musings, especially from Bessette. For the first time, Bessette made his case (more convincingly than in his book) but did so in typical attorney fashion. Although his theory has merit, it is not persuasive. I have often said that defining a person as "bi-polar" requires an actual examination under clinical conditions, which is something that could not be done at that time. I agree that where there is smoke there is fire and Lanza demonstrated some characteristics that we have come to associate with this disorder. But this is an exception because of the complexity not only of the disorder itself, but of the subject himself and the situations in which he found himself. You sometimes can be the cause of the situation, other times you are drawn into it. Perigo does well to point this out to Roland, even as compelling as Bessette makes and supports his case. He may be right but Perigo's theory of a "Magic Madness" has just as much validity.

Interesting stories and anecdotes abound, making the book more personal than most biographies can be due to their limited nature of factual reporting. Perigo is at his best when he has no limitations (as all Libertarians do). This can lead to a somewhat abrasive quality at times but it is also why he succeeds with this tricky kind of format (rather than a formal biography). It allows him to give his opinions on everything and conjure up all sorts of things and ideas without restraints. Best of all, again unlike a biography, it allows him to be personal to the extreme and that comes through loud and clear in every "chapter". This is the work of someone who does not need to be mentally objective, as a biographer must be, but one who sincerely feels what he is saying - and feels it from the heart. You can argue a "fact" found by a biographer but you can not very well argue opinions that are supported with examples and references. Perigo is a master of bringing those opinions to the extreme without falling off the edge by making a statement of fact. There is never a doubt that this is not the work of someone who truly loves Mario Lanza, but is smart enough to realize that to understand this love takes an understanding of the subject, his strengths and his weaknesses.

"The One Tenor" is a quick and easy read and I highly recommended it to Lanza fans. You probably won't learn anything new but reading the thoughts of one of the world's foremost experts on Mario Lanza, whether you agree with those thoughts or not, will give you a perspective on Lanza's art and life that you won't find anywhere else. To those concerned about the download, don't worry about it taking resources from your tablet or even your PC because you can place it directly in Amazon's virtual "Cloud" directory to access anytime and from anywhere on almost any device.

Mario Lanza, gay icon!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

There is an unbridled amount of vocal power and delivery, remarkable tone and passion in Mario Lanza’s voice. Crucial to this is his distinct and clear tenor delivered with clarity and precise diction and you have one of the master class operatic voices of the 20th century. The recordings presented on this two-disc collection "Mario Lanza: The Toast of Hollywood" span a period of time from August of 1949 through 1952 with the exception of the selection "Arrivederci Roma" recorded in November of 1957 from the film "Seven Hills of Rome." In addition, the second CD encompasses several selections from "The Mario Lanza Show" which aired on radio in 1951 and 1952. There are five songs presented during this time that have been previously unreleased and are now available on this Sony Masterworks and Turner Classic Movies collection. ...

Ultimately, all the selections on "Mario Lanza: The Toast of Hollywood" pay tribute to the timeless and enthralling talent which was Mario Lanza’s alone. Only 38-years old at the time of his death, Lanza has left behind a lasting legacy of creative genius. His voice truly was... a voice for the ages.

The Beat Goes On!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

This Week's Show:
Monday Night 8pm and 9.30pm
Welcome to TBGO

And a big welcome to Lindsay Perigo.
Lindsay is well known to our baby-boomer audience as the face of current affairs
at TVNZ in the 80's and 90's. But in the background Lindsay had become the number one fan of opera singer Mario Lanza and over the last year he has compiled a fascinating new look at the life and times of his hero. The book is called "The One Tenor" and can be downloaded and read on your computer or a Kindle.


Also...on the programme this week.
Tony Amos is at his political post.
Barry Rushton looks at a new CD by John Mayer.
Shane our walking pop Wikipedia goes way back, 1961 in fact.
Back to the early days of Chan Romero writer of our song of the week.
Song of the Week is "Hippy Hippy Shake'".
Every week we ask, please support our supporters who make
our programme possible.
TONIGHT Gerard Murphy introduces two great cruises for our New Zealand summer.
The Princess Cruise Line presents 13 day "Auckland to Auckland" cruises in December and March.
See your own country and visit Australia over 13 days of relaxation, romance and pampering.
Go on you deserve it. Call Gerard Murphy on 0800-266-869 or go to
Thank you for watching tonight.
Gerard Smith

Just reviewed it on my

Matthew Humphreys's picture

Just reviewed it on my Facebook page. I shall adapt that for Amazon.


Thank you gents!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Now please, post your reviews on Amazon. Haven't had any yet. (Brian, might pay to delete the reference to anchovies and sheep for Amazon purposes. But know you cracked me up; it wasn't wasted.)

Mario Lanza

RationalMan's picture

Lindsay Perigo calls his book “The One Tenor” a labor of love, and it is obvious he is a devoted and passionate admirer of the tenor who died over fifty years ago. As someone unfamiliar with the life of Mario Lanza, I was hooked forever by listening to him sing “Danny Boy.” It was a revolutionary experience, his voice reaching into my interior world and filling me with passion, desire and a love of life. I felt like a little Irish boy on St. Paddy’s day in Boston in love with life and knowing I was going to love great women in my life and do great things. This is the power and magic of Mario Lanza's voice.

In my opinion, the best chapter in the book is “Mario’s Magic Madness” where Lindsay gives a loving analysis of the controversial life of the great tenor. Quoting Aristotle who said that great people are inevitably touched by madness, Lindsay goes on to say that Mario Lanza was touched by “good madness” a sensitive and very talented man caught up in the chaos of Hollywood, struggling to juggle his passions, his defects and his great loves with a system that, many times, grinds people into the ground.

In the book, Perigo gives you excellent commentary about the songs and movies of Lanza, being as he is a lover of the greats of the opera world. Perigo was a good friend of Damon Lanza, Mario’s son and some of his memories of their friendship are included in the book.

As a prelude to reading “The One Tenor, be sure to see Lindsay’s interview with Jose Carreras on You Tube, a masterpiece of bringing out the best in a dedicated and passionate artist who says that Mario Lanza was his inspiration as a singer.

Perigo, a great admirer of the actress Lisa Kirk, is a native of New Zealand where before going into radio and television, he herded sheep and cultivated anchovies. The book is an excellent read from a man who knows how to write, and from a man who definitely loves Mario Lanza.

The One Tenor

Matthew Humphreys's picture

A deeply moving set of essays. Fantastic stuff Linz.


Great book Linz

gregster's picture

Well done. And Sam, Glenn, Rosie and all. I'm enjoying the background stories. Jussi and Fritz too.

A work well-integrated for this digital age.

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