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Friday, September 10, 2004 - 12:57amSanction this postReply
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For once I think James has under-sold the glories of Lanza. His legendary diction deserted Mario in Giannina Mia? I can hear every word. And what about its stunning climax?! Pitch problems in Yours Is My Heart Alone? BS!!! But James does capture the sense-of-life of this new CD "Twofer." That is to say, he recognises that there's no sense of life in the realm of singing quite like Mario's (even when the boy was "wounded"). Not to mention his voice! :-)

Linz

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Friday, September 10, 2004 - 1:45amSanction this postReply
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Furthermore, if we're going to quibble about the opening phrase to Ave Maria, how about mentioning the *concluding* phrase, which would melt the heart of anyone except the heartless & mindless? And what about the incomparable E la Storia? And what about the shimmering sexuality of "Will you remember this day, dear" in "Will You Remember"? And the super-human breath control in the climactic bars of Donkey Serenade?

Linz - just listening to the CD again, & getting all gooey! :-)

Post 2

Friday, September 10, 2004 - 1:54amSanction this postReply
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Thanks for another beautiful piece of writing, James. Personally, I'd single out more highlights from Serenade than just the Otello Monologue and Di Rigori Armato. The soundtrack, though uneven, does include other knockouts, too: the sublime Amor Ti Vieta, and the intensely moving Lamento di Federico, for example. And I adore his Torna a Surriento, on which I feel he gets *everything* right: the passion, the tonal shading, and oh, what a great high B! O Paradiso is superb, though its climax sounds even better in the film.

Yes, re-takes should have been made of that ghastly Serenade, and of course Nessun Dorma, O Soave Fanciulla, and Di Quella Pira. I share your feelings about Jean Fenn, though Kathryn Grayson was *much* worse, and in fact sounded more "like the brakes on the Rome Express" (to quote Vincent Price in the movie) than poor Jean ever did! Miss Fenn, incidentally, was never in the recording studio with Lanza - her contribution was dubbed in at a later stage. A pity, for Mario clearly needed someone with him on this duet - he's not nearly romantic enough on "Che m'ami, di'." 

You've captured the heroic elements of Cavalcade very well indeed.

Thanks, Jim.

P.S. We'll have to put up your musical writings on Linz's Lanza site as well. (That's http://freeradical.co.nz/lanza, in case anyone has somehow missed it.)


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Post 3

Friday, September 10, 2004 - 1:58amSanction this postReply
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I went to buy a Mario Lanza cd in an HMV megastore on Oxford St in the centre of London recently. I couldn't find anything in the Opera section, and when I asked the attendant, he said, rather sniffily, "He's not an opera singer. He's in the easy listening section". I found him there, buried in amongst Gene Pitney and the like.

We still live in a world of ignoramuses. 


Post 4

Friday, September 10, 2004 - 8:31amSanction this postReply
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Thank you, gentlemen. When I read through my piece again, I realized I was a little too sad when I wrote it. I have been updating a fantasized obituary of Lanza that I wrote a couple of months ago, and this period of his life should have been the time that everything came together and he started his great operatic career. I hear more pain in Lanza in Serenade than you gentlemen do. I think we agree re: the mind numbing indifference shown him as an artist frequently in his career. This period of his life is the only time I hear Lanza doubt himself, and I find that unbearably painful.
A few thoughts. I greatly prefer the Toronto and coke show renditions of Lamento di Federico, Toronto for the unbelievable phrasing and security of his voice, and the coke show for its innocence and tenderness. One of my fantasies is that someone would have suggested when Mario finished the Mario! Italian songs album that, "while we are all here, let's do the biggies again in stereo" ( O Sole Mio, Torna Surriento Mattinata, Drigo, Toselli Serenades, etc. )I also failed to say what "Cavalcade" meant to a 12 year old boy who was constantly made fun of for being "exaggerating everything,; making everything too big" for being "too optimistic". It seems that most people were telling me that that I was "too" something. Mario Lanza told me every day that I had things just right. As I have said elsewhere, he was ( and often still is) my emotional lifeline.
I know I have found a home when I am told, with an element of truth, that I have understated the greatness of Lanza. Don't ever let me get away with that.

Post 5

Friday, September 10, 2004 - 8:36amSanction this postReply
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Tim - maybe they have it right at your music store. Lanza is "easy listening" in the the sense that it is "hard listening" to anyone else after you heard it by Mario Lanza.
Don't let the little people get you down.
(Edited by James Kilbourne on 9/10, 8:38am)


Post 6

Friday, September 10, 2004 - 9:01amSanction this postReply
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Tim: I urge you not to buy a Lanza CD until you've sought advice from aficionados here about the good stuff. There is so much rubbish out there - bootleg radio shows masquerading as live recordings, egregious compilations purporting to be "definitive,"etc. I'd hate to see you waste your money on something substandard :-) There are good albums available, but one has to be selective... 
(Edited by Derek McGovern on 9/10, 9:04am)


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Post 7

Friday, September 10, 2004 - 3:47pmSanction this postReply
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Although patchy, the soundtrack of Serenade is really a miracle if one considers the almost 3 years of inactivity that preceded it. Lanza had indeed gone to hell and back since the break up with  MGM. His self confidence severely damaged. This is evident throughout the film. In Serenade we almost see a different Lanza. But there are compensations. In the best selections such as Surriento , O Paradiso, Di rigori, Amor ti vieta, E la solita storia, and the Otello monologue, Lanza is outstanding. The singing is more controlled, the delivery decidedly operatic. 

For any singer to stop performing for such an extended period of time and achieve what Lanza did in Serenade is indeed a miracle. For, on top of it all, he was really working in another film factory. MGM had been substituted by Warners. And although full of gifted individuals, the principal aim of the studios was to make money.

I remember asking Ray Heindorf why retakes of Di quella pira and Nessun dorma were not made. His reply ď We had to work within a time frame. Recording is costly. And most people canít tell the difference anyway.Ē He did concede that Lanza was never really happy with the title song. Heindorf felt that Lanza was at his best on the numbers on which he had worked hard with his vocal coach Spadoni such as the Otello sequence. But even working with Sapdoni still meant working in a commercial environment, namely Hollywood. This was really the problem Lanza had to contend with.

As for Lanzaís recordings being in the Easy Listening section, Iím afraid the problem is universal.  Itís really ironic that half baked singers like Russell Watson, Helmut Lotti, Filippa Giordano and the latest craze, the group Amici, are placed in the classical section while Lanza is still not considered worthy of the label.

But then, such is the monumental ignorance of the sales assistants that roam around the various record stores posing as experts, that it really doesnít surprise me.

Recently, I was looking for, and couldnít find, one of the Naxos CDs of Lanza  in one of the large records shops in Melbourne. I asked an assistant, and she directed me to the classical music expert who asked me ď Is he an instrumentalist?

Enough said!

 



Post 8

Friday, September 10, 2004 - 4:24pmSanction this postReply
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Armando - one can readily see the difference between a passionate fan and a definitive biographer. Thank you for this contribution.
There is no question that the resurrection of the artist Lanza has started ( in no small part, helped by Mr. Cesari). It will be a long process. But that voice and heart will win, no matter what silliness is thrown in their path.

Post 9

Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 2:19pmSanction this postReply
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James, if the resurrection of Lanza is to become a reality it will be considerably aided by intelligent contributors such as you who, although passionate about Lanza, can make a distinction between good and bad singing.

Both Lindsay and Derek have been tireless in their quest to re-establish Lanza and bring justice to the undoubtedly great talent he possessed.

Your contribution is a valuable addition, and I thank you for it.   

 


Post 10

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 10:18pmSanction this postReply
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I was lucky enough to find an LP of his called the Desert Song for less than a dollar. The record itself is in good condition and so I was able to hear all of it in decent quality. The sense of life that Lanza put into his singing on that album was wonderful. However, I did notice him straining in places on this album as well. I'm wondering if this was another 'time is money' scenario.

Adam

Post 11

Monday, September 13, 2004 - 12:04amSanction this postReply
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Adam, The Desert Song LP you have was recorded six weeks before Lanza died and is in fact his last recording. Although both ill and in pretty bad physical shape, there are occasional moments when the old magic shines through, but of course, as you pointed out, there are parts where the voice is betraying the damage itís owner has inflicted on his body.

On top of this, the recording and conducting are simply abominable.

The best of his last recordings is an album called Lanza sings Caruso Favourites, which was recorded 3 months before he died.   


Post 12

Monday, September 13, 2004 - 1:43pmSanction this postReply
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I gave myself a little assignment: If you could only suggest one Lanza song for people at Solo to listen to, what would it be?
First, I eliminated most of his greatest songs because there are so many versions. What if I am thinking of the "Serenade" from the soundtrack "Student Prince", and someone is hearing the 1959 version? Next, I decided to have the song in English, as that is the first language of most people here. This will make sure one hears his incredible pronunciation. Next, although Lanza covered the gamut of emotions, I decided that the romantic Lanza best shows his complete involvement and greatest emotional depth. So what song did I decide upon?
"A Kiss."

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Post 13

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 12:00amSanction this postReply
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Good choice James ! A Kiss is one of the lesser known and seldom talked about Lanza songs. Personally, I like it a lot.

A tenor friend of mine never stops raving about the ease with which Lanza tackles it.

It represents Lanza in full bloom and at his most romantic.



Post 14

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 3:56amSanction this postReply
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A Kiss? Now that's a *great* recommendation! Musically much more tricky than Mario makes it sound, & yes, it certainly demonstrates his superb articulation as well as the beauty of his voice. Still, I would go for Che Gelida Manina from Boheme. In Italian, contrary to your requirements, James, but he could be singing lalalala for all I care. The outpouring of glorious tones never stops. When he begins, you wonder if he can keep this intensity up. He does. He actually makes the aria more than just an soliloquy within a storyline - it is a universal hymn to beauty and heroism.

Linz

Post 15

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 7:10pmSanction this postReply
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Linz- you pick my favorite Lanza recording in "Che Gelida Manina" ( although I confess that there are about 15 others that get that title from me in moments of passion after hearing them). We need to do a definitive limited edition Lanza CD for Soloists with Armando and Derek. Or make that two: "Great Italian Songs and Arias" and "King of the Crossovers".
By the way, besides "Lanza, An American Tragedy", being the best biography of Lanza, what a great CD comes with it!

Post 16

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 11:12pmSanction this postReply
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Alright you romantic old codgers, you've finally done it! Persuaded me to take out my credit card and order a Mario Lanza CD from Amazon.

You can consider me totally new to him. But I've read enough from you Lanza-lovers (and not just about music) to realise that we share a sense of life that just "has" to encompass music- just that I haven't discovered that yet. Your raving has tempted me and I "must" satisfy my curiosity.

I was reading with interest recommended first tracks for newcomers: question is, which CD do you recommend?





Post 17

Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 2:04amSanction this postReply
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*This* romantic old codger says: don't do a *thing* without talking to McGovern. He just *loves* taking Lanza rookies under his wing! :-) Derek, where are you?!

Post 18

Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 3:33amSanction this postReply
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David: That's a toughie. My biggest gripe where Lanza's concerned is the number of trashy compilations his recording company keeps putting out. BMG has never released a single CD presenting Lanza at his consistent best! But there are a handful of good CDs around, and I've reviewed them all in depth on amazon.com. Here's a useful starting point for you:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/listmania/list-browse/-/MV7O0NMANYCC/ref=cm_aya_av.lm_more/103-7905962-3666221

If it's opera you're after, I'd go with the double CD Encore. The only problem is that it's hard to come by. Actually, the video of The Great Caruso would probably be your best introduction, not just to the voice, but to the sheer charisma of the man. If you're in Spain, you might have to order it through amazon.co.uk instead - I have a feeling the Spaniards use PAL rather than the US NTSC system. 

Why don't I just make you a CD compilation myself? It'd be a pleasure. 


Post 19

Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 3:07pmSanction this postReply
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Ooh, might I be able to get one of those too?  ::::::making really big puppy dog eyes::::::::

After all, my parents fell in love to his music, but all I have is an old tape, and don't know where to begin...   :)

Jennifer


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