Starting out in local operatic productions in Philadelphia for the YMCA Opera Company while still in his teens, he later came to the attention of longtime (1924–49) principal Boston Symphony conductor Serge Koussevitzky. Mario Lanza has been awarded two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: a Star for Recording at 1751 Vine Street, and a Star at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard for Motion Pictures.
Herbert Graf subsequently wrote in Opera News (October 5, 1942), "A real find of the season was Mario Lanza [...] He would have no difficulty one day being asked to join the Metropolitan Opera." In 1991, his son Marc Lanza died of a heart attack. Edmund Purdom starred in the role, lip-synching to Lanza.
Shortly before his own death in 1987, Enrico Jr. wrote in Enrico Caruso: My Father and My Family (posthumously published in 1990) that: I can think of no other tenor, before or since Mario Lanza, who could have risen with comparable success to the challenge of playing Caruso in a screen biography ... Lanza was born with one of the dozen or so great tenor voices of the century, with a natural voice placement, an unmistakable and very pleasing timbre, and a nearly infallible musical instinct. This was when Cocozza adopted the stage name Mario Lanza for its similarity to his mother’s maiden name, Maria Lanza. Born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza in Philadelphia, he was exposed to classical singing at an early age by his Abruzzese-Molisan Italian parents. All he needed was coaching. This song, It's Now or Never, went on to be one of Elvis' all time best selling songs. , Lanza was born at 636 Christian Street in South Philadelphia. He sang over 150 concerts in his brief career, and at the time of his death had agreed to appear in the 1960-1961 Rome Opera season as Canio in "Pagliacci". Reportedly, Koussevitzky later told him "Yours is a voice such as is heard once in a hundred years. At the height of his career, Lanza was voted by exhibitors as being among the most popular stars in the country: The Great Caruso And Other Caruso Favorites (1989), Mario Lanza Sings Songs from The Student Prince and The Desert Song (1989), Mario Lanza: Opera Arias and Duets, (1999), Mario Lanza Live at Hollywood Bowl: Historical Recordings (1947 & 1951) (2000), Serenade/A Cavalcade of Show Tunes (2004), http://www.youtube.com/results?search_filter=0&suggested_categories=10&search_query=Mario+Lanza.
During this period, Lanza also came very close to bankruptcy as a result of poor investment decisions by his former manager, and his lavish spending habits left him owing about $250,000 in back taxes to the IRS..  According to opera historian Clyde McCants, "Of all the Hollywood singers who performed operatic music ... the one who made the greatest impact was Mario Lanza. Albanese said of Lanza in 1980: I had heard all sorts of stories about Mario [Lanza]. " During most of his film career, he suffered from addictions to overeating and alcohol which had a serious effect on his health and his relationships with directors, producers and, occasionally, other cast members. [Lanza] had an unusual, very unusual quality ... a tenor with a baritone color in the middle and lower registers, and a great feeling for the making of music. A year after Lanza's death, Elvis recorded an English translation of O Sole Mio, which was popularized by Lanza. Click on each thumbnail to view a larger version. The son of Italian immigrants, he began studying to be a professional singer at the age of 15. It was a gorgeous, beautiful, powerful voice. He was besieged on cross-country concert tours and appearances years before Elvis Presley and The Beatles, was a true "superstar" before the word was invented and the first singer to ever earn gold records, with million sellers in both classical and popular categories. Others referred to him extravagantly as the "new Caruso", after his "instant success" in Hollywood films, while MGM hoped that he would become the movie studio's "singing Clark Gable" due to his good looks and powerful voice. A rarity in that he was a best-selling classical artist, Lanza's many recordings on RCA Victor Red Seal--most notably "Be My Love", The Great Caruso (1951) soundtrack album and "Christmas Hymns and Carols"--were top-sellers at the time and have continued to enjoy consistent sales, more than four decades after his premature death. The Mario Lanza Institute and Museum, which honors Lanza's legacy and also provides scholarships to young singers, is located at 712 Montrose Street in South Philadelphia. [Lanza] had an unusual, very unusual quality ... a tenor with a baritone color in the middle and lower registers, and a great feeling for the making of music. In 1951, he played the role of tenor Enrico Caruso, his idol, in the biopic The Great Caruso, which produced another million-seller with "The Loveliest Night of the Year" (a song which used the melody of Sobre las Olas). Prior to that, the adult Lanza had sung only two performances of an opera. and vulnerability. He had the most beautiful lirico spinto voice. Rarely have we seen a more superbly romantic leading tenor. He had everything that one needs. She adds that he was the "last of the great romantic performers". Everything was so easy for him.
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