Mario Lanza


Of Mario Lanza's voice, the legendary Conductor Serge Koussevitzky of the Boston Symphony said, "There is no doubt. This is the greatest voice since Caruso." No less a giant than Maestro Arturo Toscanini, who had worked with Caruso, took the compliment even farther by declaring flatly that Mario Lanza has, "the greatest voice of the century." Even hip and trendy People Magazine recently stated that his voice is "Magnificent."
Without equivocation, Lanza possessed the most astonishing vocal gift of the last 100 years. Possibly of all time. His singing voice, without equivocation, has an unmatched ability to reach out and deeply touch people any time, any place no matter what language they may speak or what country they may live in. For many, in fact, just mentally conjuring up the sound of the Lanza voice can raise lowly spirits and lift depression. That's pretty amazing...especially in this day of hyperbole, overkill, product hype, and mass marketing gimmicks and trickery. You see, Mario Lanza was the real thing: a larger than life comet of unsurpassed, searing, superhuman vocal talent. And heart. And complexity. And sensitivity. And PASSION. He spared nothing to share his gift with the world. It is sometimes said of young tenors: "He's another Mario Lanza". But so far, not one of them has come close to living up to that comparison.
Remembering that he left for a far better place over 40 years ago at the absurd age of 38 makes it all the more amazing to consider what is happening with the Lanza legacy in this new century and millennium.
Just a few examples: There at least half a dozen other singers on three continents now doing one man tributes to Lanza in dinner houses and theaters, often to packed audiences.
Metropolitan Opera Star Richard Leech often does Lanza tribute concerts which are so successful the NY Times did a feature article on Mario. The Three Tenors, of course, were all inspired as by Mario Lanza and have dedicated complete performances to him. Jose Carreras recorded an entire CD in his honor. All three have recorded many of Mario's standards as their own and routinely pay tribute to him in their concerts. But try as they may to recreate the magic, it simply can't be done. There is only one Mario Lanza whose unforgettable voice lives on in both CD and film and continues to be the source of joy and inspiration for people the world over...and countless young opera singers.
As many of you well know, to listen Mario Lanza perform a song is often to hear it done as well as it could ever be done. It's that simple. His are often definitive performances. In addition to his peerless emotional and dramatic interpretation, his phrasing is flawless, especially in the marvelous recordings of scores of popular English songs adored by millions around the world and featured on this CD. There is simply no one else who can make sometimes impossibly clumsy lyrics completely believable and convincing. And when Mario had lyrics that were already wonderful to begin with, you almost have to sit down because of the impact of what you are hearing.
One of the world's foremost Lanza experts, Clyde Smith, whose essays can be read in Feature Articles, uses the expression of a 'towering a wall of sound' to describe the overwhelming dimensions of the Lanza voice at full output.
It has also been suggested that the almost other-worldly overtones, and harmonics embedded within Mario's voice resonate with people at unique and unprecedented levels, both physically and emotionally and can produce some profound emotional and near spiritual manifestations of well being. A friend of mine who is a Psychiatrist (a real human being, not a huckster) tells me of an 85 year old patient of his who literally stays alive to listen to her aging collection of Mario's LPs. Amazing.
I first became aware of Mario Lanza in my university days. As one of many ventures and sidelights I would drift in and out of, I opened up a small restaurant which I operated (during my Junior year). Once a month or so, I would close it for a night and screen a Mario Lanza several dozen fellow students and apparachiks who had been weaned on Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. It didn't matter. Mario's vocal prowess, his sound, his passion, his charm and charisma walked right through the haze of marijuana smoke and the chemical fog of LSD and would lift these people right up and out of their sometimes semi-conscious parameters and float them off into a state of thrilled anesthesia. It happened every time.
My grandfather was a world-famous French Chef who was a fixture at several prime Hollywood restaurants during the 40's and 50's, primarily Ciro's on Sunset. He was a good friend of Gable and a pal of Flynn. But his great friend was Mario. Not knowing any other this during my youth, I asked my grandfather, one day in passing, if he had known Mario.
In my mind's eye, I can still see his face suddenly change, as if a voltage of electric current had passed through him at the moment I said "Mario Lanza." He said, through his still thick French accent, "Jesus Christ...what a BEAUTIFUL man! My God..what a voice." And then, as his eyes told me, he went somewhere else to be with his private memories of Mario. I didn't ask anymore of him. What I would give to have been with my grandfather just once when he was with Mario and heard him the night at Ciro's when Dean and Jerry were doing their act on stage. Spying Mario in the audience, the comedians insisted that Mario, having dinner with Betty, stand up and sing. Mario did...and when he was finished, Dean and Jerry excused themselves and simply said good night to the audience...their performance for the night was finished.. There was simply no way they could follow the Lanza voice...
I remember seeing the same reaction my grandfather had overtake songwriting legend Sammy Cahn's face during an interview when I asked him about Mario. "Oh, what a voice...what an incredible voice!" As I said the words "Mario Lanza" Sammy's eyes appeared to come unfocused and his consciousness seemed to have vaulted back through the decades to dwell, for a few moments, with his memories of Mario.
It's still rather hard for me to believe, but there are those who don't "hear" the voice. Either you do or you don't, it seems. I've always felt sorry for those who couldn't, or wouldn't, let that sound in. I'm happy that you did and welcome you to this small tribute to the man who will never have a rival. You see, there just can't ever be another. (Barring, the genetic cloning of humans from their mortal remains which may already be feasible according to some insiders, but that's another story which you may hear about on my radio program if you listen in often).
So, who am I? I am father, author, former tv news anchor and News Director, businessman, national radio talk show host, and proud overseer of this unique internet location to which you are all invited, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I especially like to hear from those of you who knew Mario, or saw him perform. Please write up that experience: what it was like, the sound, the audience, the man and his personality, and send it in...letters such as these are as close to time travel as it gets.
This Mario Lanza site is located on the Home Page of the web site of my national radio show at You can also access it by typing in I think you'll find some pretty interesting things to read and to consider here.
Our Message Forum is open for business 24 hours a day. You can post messages and questions which will usually be answered by Lanza fans located almost anywhere on the planet. Truly amazing. Spend a few minutes reading the messages and you will be more than impressed with the quality of people whose remarkable and entertaining thoughts and expertise as always enjoyable and informative to read. It's great fun and please do post a message once in a while. No such thing as a silly question or a boring Mario Lanza anecdote here.
Thanks for visiting...enjoy.

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