Exciting New Lanza DVD -
'Singing With Passion'

Review By Sam Samuelian

What an interesting concept...taking Mario's popular songs from his films and assembling certain ones for a program with great flow and entertainment value! This is what I witnessed last night and will describe fully below.
The disc comes in a case with a nice photo of Mario from Serenade on the cover in color and the rear has two black and white photos of him, one from a concert and the other in the recording studio. The disc has a shot from him singing "Torna A Surriento" and says "A selection of songs of love and passion". No opera is included (this may be a future project), only songs in English and some Italian Neapolitan songs and one in Spanish.
It begins with a neat logo of a movie projector being hand threaded and then started. This leads to the first menu card (in widescreen), which allows you to click on the TV picture tube in the center (which shows scenes in action) to see the four full pages of titles. But first you are treated to the wonderful and rare "All the Things You Are" in its entirely. This is the great recording with piano from the deleted Rhino-MGM disc. The program starts and the first song from each movie has the film title and the year. I will run you through this step by step, since the DVD includes some wonderful effects that add to the overall enjoyment and flow. 
(excellent picture quality with extra rich colors, sharp, and fine sound)
1 They Didn't Believe Me duet with K. Grayson. When that is finished, the scene flips over like a page turning in a book to
2 I Know, I Know with Mario serenading Kathryn. That ends and the scene literally breaks in half and opens for
3 Love Is Music, the big ending production number with colorful costumes like you have never seen before considering the inferior videotapes around. Then film sprockets appear above and below the frame and the picture shifts to the right and leads to
(excellent sharp picture and sound quality continues for these excerpts)
4 Be My Love. Then a smaller picture in a square grows from the previous scene and fills the screen with
5 Tina Lina (this is the only incomplete number, as it ends with Mario and Rita Moreno arm in arm before much of the production dance number). There is a fade into
6 Boom Biddy Boom. There is a wipe (a movie term where one picture wipes out another) to the left and
7 I'll Never Love You. Then a most interesting effect appears...circular ripples in the picture which lead to the watery scene of
8 Bayou Lullaby. When that concludes, you see film sprockets around the frames and the scene shifts to the right for
(still sharp and still rich colors, but somewhat more grainy picture quality and a tad more contrasty) 
9 Surriento with Mario at piano. Then the screen literally divides in half and tilts backward for 
10 Because. Mario singing into the recording horn. Film sprockets appear again and the picture shifts to the right to reveal
(quality similar to Great Caruso, still fine and a bit nicer)
11 Because Your're Mine (duet in the apartment). Then a wonderful effect of a small heart which enlarges and fills the screen for
12 Lee-Ah-Loo. Tiny squares appear to segment the picture like huge pixels and become:
13 Granada. After this incredible number is over, film sprockets appear and shift image to the right for
(best quality of all, as this looks pristine and could hardly be improved in sound and picture quality that is stunning) 
14 Torna A Surriento. My favorite song in the movie, done impeccably. Camera zooms in and fades while zooming out to
15 My Destiny. (in the hotel suite). A square appears and closes into
16 Serenade (version by the car). Film sprockets and a right shift to
(these have very good quality of picture and sound and are sharp..full frame, not widescreen) and we see
17 Come Dance With Me. A dissolve takes us to
18 Arrivederci Roma (lovely fountain setting is crystal clear). A wonderful effect at the end as the scene becomes a three dimensional book and the book turns around from the current scene on front to the new scene on the back of
19 Lolita. This dissolves into
20 The Loveliest Night Of the Year (which you know is not sung in its entirety). Another dissolve take us to
21 Seven Hills Of Rome, the title song. Film frames appear and shift to the left for us to enjoy
(picture quality is fine, still sharp and rich color, with a bit more contrast).
22 Come Prima. Sung with the spoken verse intact. Wipes to the right for
23 O Sole Mio. A great way to end this program with a fantastic performance. Fades out to black and then the song selection screen appears again so you can restart and click on each individual favorite you might want to go back to (each tab is a TV screen with action of the song seen).
There is nothing from Student Prince to break the flow of seeing Mario in top scenes looking wonderful and, as the title promised, singing passionately. The flow of the numbers is impressive and the time flies by as well as you hardly realize nearly an hour has passed.
It is in Region 0 format, so both NTSC and PAL users will be able to enjoy it. Price is $15.00 plus $4.00 shipping in US. Overseas orders can write for shipping quote, most average $8 to $10 in flat rate cardboard envelopes. Please email Sam Samuelian at <> for more information.
BONUS: We decided to add this as a Valentine's Day bonus. The DVD now also includes Doretta Morrow and Mario singing the love duet finale from "Because You're Mine" which includes the stunning high note Mario hits at the end. Superimposed over the MGM end titles are "Singing With Passion" end titles, giving a real air of finality to this great and entertaining DVD. Also, much of it has been electronically improved for greater clarity. "That Midnight Kiss" is a stand out with superior color and sharpness.



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