Singing With Passion
- The Sequel

By Sam Samuelian

Those of you who enjoyed "Singing With Passion" on DVD will definitely love this latest DVD release called "Mario Lanza Sings Opera and Religious Songs". It complements the earlier DVD perfectly and features only classical and religious music, whereas the other featured songs. Bound in a handsome case with color photos front and rear, this is a Region 0 DVD that will play anywhere in the world on most machines.
The following is my review after screening it on a six foot screen. It details the entire production, which runs a full hour and twenty minutes. As before, the special effects between each song are excellent and well chosen.
After the logo, it starts with the rehearsal montage from "Toast of New Orleans" that features Mario and Kathryn Grayson singing ("O Paradiso", etc). and then the title appears in bold letters. That leads to the menu, where you have your choice of running the entire program or picking your favorite chapters. All is in chronological order in time of release date as well as in chronological time within each movie. The color and quality are superior, the best released to date. "The Great Caruso" is much improved over what I have seen before. It still has some sepia tone to it, but minor. Sound is very sharp and clear throughout. "Because You're Mine" and "For the First Time" are somewhat less sharp in regards to picture, but are the best that could be found on these films. Certainly very watchable and nice, though not as good as the sparkling "That Midnight Kiss" and the near perfect "Serenade".
1-"That Midnight Kiss"
a-Mario sitting at piano sings "Mamma mia che vo sape", which of course introduced him to movie audiences in 1949. I love this sequence, as you don't see his face until the song progresses and then you are pleasantly surprised.
b-the picture twists like a soft pretzel to "Una Furtiva Lagrima", done for Iturbi at the piano.
2-"Toast Of New Orleans"
a-the scene shifts to the left with film sprockets above and below the image and leads to Mario's "Flower Song".
b-little squares dissolve the picture into the "Libiamo" duet with K. Grayson.
c-picture opens like flower petals (neat effect!) and the "Madame Butterfly" finale is show complete.
3-"The Great Caruso"
a-picture with film sprockets shifts to "A Vuchella", sung so tenderly.
b-small squares open to reveal "La Danza" with Mario in the restaurant.
c-picture becomes a three dimensional box that turns over to start the first montage that includes "Aida", "Tosca", "Cavalleria Rusticana", and "La Giocanda". This is the sequence that traces Caruso's rise to fame.
d-shot of a newspaper that opens to reveal "La donna e mobile", sung to perfection.
e-picture becomes tiny squares that lead to "Celeste Aida", sung with recitative.
f-zoom in and then a zoom out to "O Terra Addio" duet with Dorothy Kirsten.
g-dissolve to "Che Gelida Manina", with that exciting C sharp finale.
h-what looks like a page from a book turns to start the second montage which includes "Il Trovatore", "Rigoletto", "Tosca", and "Cavalleria Rusticana".
i-scene changes to "Ave Maria" (Bach-Gounod), the duet with the chubby faced choirboy.
j-the scene wipes upward to "Lucia Sextette" and the charming "Its a girl" sequence that ends with the wonderful sparkle in Mario's eyes.
k-a book like image turns to start "M'appari".
l-picture divides in half to the "Marta" finale.
4-"Because You're Mine"
a-picture frame moves to left for "Addio alla madre", sung with great support.
b-a rain-like effect leads to "Song Angels Sing", based on a classical melody.
c-picture is divided into bars and then you see "Addio" duet with Paula Corday.
d-scene dissolves into "The Lord's Prayer", one of the most moving renditions.
5-"Serenade" (Note that there a few minor jumps where a part of a word may be clipped...this is mostly due to transferring from PAL to NTSC and they pass quickly and are not bothersome for the most part. The superior picture and sound quality more than make up for this slight deficiency.)
a-picture sprockets that shift to right lead into the montage that includes "Di rigori armato" and "Amor ti vieta" (magnificently sung), and then "Di quella pira", fine until the last pinched note.
b-a unique pinwheel effect leads to the great "Di mi potevi", without a doubt the pinnacle of Mario's classical movie singing.
c-a glittering and streaking effect dissolves to "Ave Maria" in the church.
d-scene shifts left to "O Paradiso", resonant and perfectly sung.
e-scene shifts right to "Lamento di Federico".
f-picture twists into "Nessun Dorma", a fitting operatic finale for this movie.
6-"The Seven Hills of Rome" (full frame picture)
a-scene with film sprockets shifts left to "Questa o quella"
b-picture peals downward to "Lolita", which is the only duplicate piece since it is also found on "Singing With Passion". There is little else in this film of a classical nature.
7-"For the First Time" (full frame picture)
a-picture shifts to right and then the arguably greatest rendition of "Vesti la giubba" appears.
b-book shaped picture flips upside down to the Mozart trio, as far as I know the only Mozart Mario sang in his films.
c-picture dissolves and shifts left to the "Death of Otello"
d-picture opens up and into the "Aida" finale, a fitting ending for the movie and for this DVD, as red end titles are superimposed over the original MGM titles.
So, there you have it...a wonderful and entertaining production. Note that anyone who does not have "Singing With Passion" (which has nothing from "Great Caruso" and "Serenade") can also order this as a double set. The price for "Mario Lanza Sings Opera and Religious Songs" is only $23.00 shipped to USA. Slightly higher for foreign orders. The price for the double set is a deal at $32.00 shipped to USA.
Just write to Sam Samuelian at for ordering.



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