Mario Lanza

Verdi, Puccini, Leoncavallo and others

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Mario Lanza was a magnificent anomaly: one of the most famous opera singers of his day, he almost never appeared on the opera stage and never recorded a complete opera. Instead, he made pop records and movies in which he always sang, often opera, and sometimes, as in 'The Great Caruso,' even played the part of an opera star. His albums were best-sellers during the 1950s, and the soundtrack from the film version of Sigmund Romberg's operetta 'The Student Prince,' in which he starred, was the first LP of a movie soundtrack (or an operetta for that matter) to go gold. His untimely death at the age of 38 in 1959 was a shock to the entertainment world.

RCA has now compiled a collection of popular opera arias taken from various LPs, movies, and television tapings. Years later, Lanza's voice still stands out as unique: light, sweet, and lyrical yet capable of heroic flight, and like Andrea Bocelli's, poised in many ways between the realms of opera and pop music. How Lanza would have fared on stage we'll never know, but in the movies and on disc he'll always be a star.

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