Directed by Anthony Shrubsall
Written and Performed by Andrew Bain
LANZA charts the life of sensational 1950’s singer and movie star, Mario Lanza. More than a tribute show, he comes alive to set the record straight, weaving together personal reminiscence and song. In a hospital room in Rome, inspired by a scratchy Caruso record, Lanza’s life flashes before him. He is tended by his nurse; who comes to embody all the women in his life. The drama examines the nature of fame and asks why a man, who seemingly has the world at his feet, spirals out of control.
LANZA punctuates the compelling drama of his life with the music which made him famous. The operatic hits and lighter classics include, ‘E Lucevan le Stelle’, ‘Granada’, ‘You’ll never walk alone’ and Mario Lanza’s most famous song, ‘Be my Love’.
Mario Lanza was a classical singer who shot to fame in the 1940 and 1950s through musical films, “Serenade”, as the voice of “The Student Prince” and, most famously, in the biopic of his hero, “The Great Caruso”. He had a magnificent, powerful and soaring tenor voice, which dripped with emotion. He sang the tenor operatic repertoire but also sang lighter music better than any operatic tenor has managed before or since. His was an unmistakable voice, which touched the hearts of a post-war generation.
Hailed as the ‘American Caruso’ he starred in 7 films mostly under contract to MGM but sang in only 1 professional opera. This failure to make an impact in the opera house and the effects of stardom seemed to haunt him. He felt that the so-called musical cognoscenti did not respect his talents and was stung by vitriolic press coverage. A combination of natural tendencies and disillusionment led to a troubled life, he spiralled into addictions and died tragically young, leaving his wife (who died only 6 months later) and four young children.
“My biggest regret is not to have had the opportunity to sing with the greatest tenor voice I’ve ever heard”
– Maria Callas
“He had a fantastic voice – not just wonderful – a fantastic voice.” – Luciano Pavarotti
“I don’t think he knew how good he was” – Giuseppe Di Stefano
“His passion and the way his voice sounds, it’s what made me sing opera. I actually owe my love for opera, thanks to a kid from Philadelphia.” – Placido Domingo