Mario Lanza was the most famous tenor the world had ever known. His voice was big and powerful, rich and golden, with a dazzling top that thrilled everyone. The greatest tenors of the modern era – Pavarotti, Carreras, Domingo and Bocelli – all trace their inspiration back to Lanza. Trained for a career on the opera stage, Lanza instead became the first true crossover artist when MGM made him a matinee idol during the 1950s with box office hits such as The Toast of New Orleans, The Great Caruso, and Because You’re Mine. A superstar before the word was even coined, Lanza’s recordings of The Loveliest Night of the Year, Because You’re Mine, and his signature ballad, Be My Love sold in their millions.
Mario Lanza had it all: a voice blessed by God, Italian good looks and a passionate zest for life. But within ten years, the star that glowed so brightly had burned itself out. Lanza’s sudden passing in 1959 at age thirty-eight was one of the first tragic deaths of the modern pop and rock era – a precursor of what was to come for many great artists battling to live with fame and its darker side.
Lanza was a film and recording star supreme, but the most dramatic role he ever played was that of Mario Lanza himself. It was a life of fame and passion, incredible successes and incomprehensible tragedies. And it was played to a soundtrack of one of the most beautiful singing voices ever heard. This is the story of the great Mario Lanza.
Air date: April 2017
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