Mario Lanza -
Singing To The Gods
New BBC TV Tribute To Mario Lanza
Earlier this year I was contacted by Mark Kidel, an independent film producer and director of music and arts documentaries. Mark is based in Bristol in the U.K. and he informed me that he had been commissioned by the BBC to produce a one-hour TV tribute to Mario Lanza for BBC Four's "Legends" series.
Mark was in the process of immersing himself in all things Lanza at the time: reading all the current Lanza biographies, listening to the recordings and viewing the films. He assured me that the program would be a celebration of the Lanza talent and not a demolition job and I immediately put him in contact with Pam Latham of the British Mario Lanza Society. Pam did her usual first-rate job and provided him with all of the back-up information required to get things rolling. In June 2005 Mark flew to Los Angeles where he spent several days interviewing me, Ellisa, and Terry Robinson for the program. That was the start of a very comprehensive series of on-camera interviews, a process that eventually took Mark and his associates to several other countries, Italy included.
The results of Mark's labors were revealed to me in London last month when I was given a sneak preview of the new documentary. Mark had still to trim a few minutes to fit the one-hour time slot but what I saw in the studio that evening, what Mark and his talented editor Andrew had accomplished from scratch in less than 8 months, was extraordinary. The final running time will be just under 60 minutes so no one should expect all aspects of Lanza's life and times to be covered in detail. What is there, however, is an exciting, insightful and moving tribute to an unforgettable star. The Lanza voice and charisma literally explode from the screen and I told Mark after the viewing that BMG in the U.K. should sell a boat-load of Lanza CDs when the program is broadcast.
The tribute is scheduled to be shown on BBC Four on December 2, 2005 at 9 p.m., with a further broadcast to come on BBC Two (that date to be announced); hopefully, a U.S. transmission will follow before too long. Plans for worldwide distribution on DVD are also in the pipeline. Mark had experimented with "Singing to the Gods" as an on-screen working title and he liked it so much that he asked my permission to use it on the finished program. I was more than delighted to comply with his request.
I will refrain for now from commenting on specifics (who's in it, what clips are shown, what music is played on the soundtrack, etc.), but it's fair to say that it does contain a few surprises. I look forward very much to hearing the views of our European friends following the broadcast.
You can learn more about Mark Kidel's accomplished and wide-ranging background as a filmmaker by logging on to his website at
November 2005