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    Lanza, Mario (31st January 1921-7th October 1959)

    He was a tenor and actor born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.    He was around singing and music from a young age and by the time he was 16 his talents as a singer were obvious.  He started to sing in local operatic productions and was noticed by the conductor Serge Koussevitzky who ensured him a scholarship to the Berkshire Music Festival in Tanglewood.   After having pent six weeks studying with Leonard Bernstein and Boris Goldovsky he made his debut was in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Tanglewood in 1942.  He won critical acclaim and changed his name to Lanza, which was his mother's maiden name.  During WWII he served in U.S. Army Air Corps' Special Services and while here he appeared in the shows Winged Victory and On The Beam.  His return to singing after the war started on the Great Moments in Music radio program.  Undertaking further studies with Enrico Rosati for 15 months, he followed them up with a tour of 86 concerts throughout America, Mexico and Canada and after a concert he staged at the Hollywood Bowl Louis B. Mayer signed him to a 7-year contract at MGM.  He managed to spread his time initially between his concerts, operatic performances and acting, but after his first two films, That Midnight Kiss and The Toast of New Orleans, became very successful his fame grew and he was wanted by record and the film company alike.  In 1951 he starred as The Great Caruso but although very successful it also exposed him to intense criticism by critics who had earlier favoured him.  MGM dismissed him in 1954 after he had pre-recorded the songs required for the soundtrack of The Student Prince and he was replaced by Edmund Purdom who mimed the part.  He neared bankruptcy and withdrew from the public eye, but returned in 1956 in the film Serenade.  He went to Rome in 1957 to work on the film Seven Hills of Rome and then toured Britain and Europe in a series of successful concerts.  After having auditioned for a position in the management of La Scala, Milan he was offered a two-year contract to sing at the theatre.  His health started to fail and he suffered from high blood pressure and phlebitis.  In April 1959 he had a mild heart attack that followed with double pneumonia and then in October he died from a pulmonary embolism.  His influence his said to have inspired singers such as Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Elvis Presley.  His voice was the first to be transferred onto a CD.


    Mario Lanza recordings

    O Holy Night (Adolphe Charles Adam)

    RCA 6427 (CD - Christmas with Mario Lanza)






    Here he is singing "Come Prima"....










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