Introduction: Mario Lanza (02:50)
Mario Lanza was the first crossover artist, singing in his films. He inspired Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and José Carreras to pursue careers in opera. He began his career working at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony. (Credits)
Lanza: Childhood (03:36)
Born Alfred Arnold Cocozzo, he was the son of Italian immigrants and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His grocer father sacrificed to help Lanza become a star. Serge Koussevitzky noticed the boy's talent and gave him a scholarship to Tanglewood.
World War II Erupts (04:19)
The tenor married Betty Hicks, performed with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on the radio, and studied with Enrico Rosati. Arthur Judson formed the Bel Canto trio with the singer, George London, and Frances Yeend. Louis B. Mayer offered Lanza a seven-year contract with MGM after hearing him at the Hollywood Bowl.
Lanza: Transitioning to Film (05:12)
Lanza continued to tour America and worked with RCA on a series of operatic recordings. The tenor portrayed Pinkerton in "Madama Butterfly." "That Midnight Kiss" was his cinematic debut about a working-class boy who can sing.
"The Toast of New Orleans" (04:04)
The film is about a working-class fisherman who is discovered by a touring opera singer. Lanza sang arias from "La Traviata," "Madame Butterfly," and "Carmen." Kathryn Grayson refused to perform with the tenor again.
"The Great Caruso" (05:25)
Lanza released an album in the same year of Enrico Caruso's greatest arias. The film established Lanza as the greatest operatic movie star of the century. Lanza inspired Domingo, Pavarotti, Carreras, and Frank Sinatra to pursue singing careers.
"Because You're Mine" (04:42)
The song based upon the title sold a million copies. Lanza's weight began to fluctuate due to stress. Both of his parents appeared in the film. After recording all the songs for "The Student Prince," the tenor walked off the set due to an argument with Curtis Bernhardt.
Lanza returned to the screen in 1956. While the film was well received by the critics, box office sales failed. Lanza relocated his family to Italy and shot "Seven Hills of Rome."
Lanza: Recordings (02:36)
Lanza performed concerts across the world and sings an area for Queen Elizabeth II. Opera Roma and Naples offered him roles. Warner Brothers released "For the First Time."
Lanza: Health Issues (04:45)
Lanza fell ill due to his weight and heart. The tenor checked into the Valle Giulia and died of a heart attack. His wife committed suicide five months later.
Credits: Mario Lanza (00:39)
Credits: Mario Lanza
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