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Italian-American Crooners Speak the Language of Love
Part 2 of 5: Perry Como & Mario Lanza
Continued from page 1
by Cookie Curci
While Dean and Frank were busy forming the "rat pack", and Perry Como was starring on a new medium called television, the more serious minded music lover was listening to a new Italian-American voice. It was only natural that Mario Lanza, (1921- 1958) become a singer, his mother had a beautiful soprano voice and his childhood hero was the great Caruso, who, ironically, died the year Lanza was born. He was christened, Alfredo Arnold Cocozza, but later took the male version of his mother's maiden name, Maria Lanza. During his career he thrilled millions with his magnificent voice and good looks. Lanza was one of the rare, gifted tenors who could sing "D" flat and high "C". With the same ease Lanza sold over 50 million records, an impressive feat when you consider his short life. His death from a heart attack, at age 38, left an unfulfilled void.
Through his films and recordings, Lanza introduced the masses to opera, who otherwise may never have experienced it. To his legend of fans, his glorious renditions of "Ave Maria" and "Pagliacci" remain incomparable. Renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini said of Lanza: "He is the greatest voice of the century". His faithful followers will agree. Although Mario Lanza has been gone for some 42 years, his recordings remain popular with his loyal fans, who continue to revere him as the one and only Italian tenor.
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