Day 269 of Colourisation Project – January 31
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
What Alfred Arnold Cocozza lacked in height, he made up for with his beautiful tenor voice. An awestruck Arturo Toscanini called it “the voice of the century.”
Soprano Maria Callas said of him in a 1973 interview: “My biggest regret is not to have had the opportunity of singing with the greatest tenor voice I’ve ever heard.”
Plácido Domingo said “his passion and the way his voice sounds are what made me sing opera. I actually owe my love for opera … to a kid from Philadelphia.”
That kid, born in Philadelphia on this day, January 31, 1921, was better known as Mario Lanza, the American tenor, actor, and Hollywood movie star of the late 1940s and the 1950s.
Lanza made two movies, That Midnight Kiss (1949), and The Toast of New Orleans (1950) both opposite Kathryn Grayson before making his opera debut to great acclaim at the New Orleans Opera House as Pinkerton in Puccini‘s Madame Butterfly. Hollywood soon snapped him up for good. In 1951, he played the role of Enrico Caruso, his tenor idol, in the top-grossing biopic, The Great Caruso. Many critics likened his voice to a young Caruso.
In the following years he made only another four films, Because You’re Mine (1952), Serenade (1956), Seven Hills of Rome (1958) and For The First Time (1959) and produced many recordings before his life was cut short at the age of 38 in 1959.
It is not certain if he died from a massive heart attack or from a fatal pulmonary embolism, as no autopsy was conducted. He left behind four children and his shattered wife, who died five months later of a drug overdose.
Mario Lanza has 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.
For your enjoyment today, I leave you with this film clip of Mario Lanza performing ‘Nessun Dorma’ from the 1956 movie, Serenade, featuring Joan Fontaine and Sara Montiel.
“I sing from the heart… I sing the words of a song and really feel them, from the top of my head to the tip of my toes… I sing as though my life depends on it, and if I ever stop doing that then I’ll stop living.” ~ Mario Lanza