Ecouter Mario Lanza

Leoncavallo : VESTI LA GIUBBA
Dicitencello Vuie
Verdi: OTELLO "Dio mi potevi"
Na sera e maggio
Serenade de Romberg
Leoncavallo: LA BOHEME

Blessings for Mario Lanza


Score in hands, I was on YouTube listening by various tenors, dead or alive, to Bizet’s aria “Je crois entendre encore…” from opera “The Pearl Fishers”.

It was my homework for a voice lesson to come and, as always, I was surprised by the variety of interpretations, understanding (or misunderstanding) of the aria, its place in the story, its meaning, its style and its words. After all, in singing music conveys its magic to be the support of the words.

And in this diversity of styles, pronunciations, interpretations, emotions (or lack of those…), I thought of Mario Lanza and his unique sensitivity, dedication to the words and the passion and poetry that conveyed his emotions, as if he was singing not for the multitude but only for one person.

And as it occurs normally on YouTube, pictures of Lanza appeared on the right side of my computer screen presenting some of his songs, arias and videos (but not “Je crois entendre encore…”  that, to my knowledge he never sang or recorded although he did it for Georges Bizet’s “Agnus Dei”).

After my homework on Bizet, I voted n°1 for Alain Vanzo’s superb performance on the aria, and I started reading the comments on Lanza’s other performances.  Then I was struck by a significant and surprising number of… blessings and prayers for the soul of Mario Lanza…

Usually, the reviews are (or are not) laudative of a voice, a singing, a style etc…but I cannot think of any tenor before Lanza’s time, say Caruso, Gigli, Schipa, Lauri-Volpi, Pertile, etc… or of his time, say Bergonzi, Corelli, Di Stefano, Del Monaco etc…, or after his death (you name it…) receiving blessings and prayers. Admiration, yes, appreciations for their careers, yes, even some grandiloquence (The best one!, The greatest ! , The master ! etc…), but never blessings.

Only this young man, more than 60 years after his death, receives blessings and prayers of this kind: “May he sing for God, “God bless his soul”, “Our eternal gratitude for the emotion flowing from his heart”, R.I.P, etc…

Of course, like the great tenors and sopranos of our time, the people pay also respect and admiration for the great singer he was and for the unique voice which was his, but, more important, they express gratitude for the man who used to say that he sang each word as if it were his “last word on this earth”.

All this goes beyond singing and shows once more that real singing is, literally, a matter of heart.

Marcel Azencot