From Publishers Weekly
In this newest addition to Bakersville's Great Voices series, Cesari makes the convincing argument that Philadelphia-born Lanza, while one of America's greatest operatic singers, could also have been one of the world's great opera singers, carrying the torch passed on by Enrico Caruso. For Cesari, an Italian-born singer now living in Australia, this work is obviously a labor of love, and his passion comes through in his detailed recounting of Lanza's life. While his admiration for the singer occasionally veers towards the hagiographic, Cesari is careful to analyze Lanza's performances fairly, quoting reporters and reviewers at the time. It was Lanza's meteoric rise in popularity through film, Cesari notes, that drew fire from his most severe critics, who believed that Lanza's voice was too weak for the stage. But as many of the reviews and comments from well-known opera personalities show, this was hardly the case. What makes this book even more appealing (and what justifies its price) is the accompanying CD, which includes many pieces from Lanza's early career.
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Touted as the successor to Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza (1921-59) had a beautiful lirico spinto
tenor of wide vocal range and could have become the primo donno
of the opera world. But he loved the money he made from movies, recordings, and concerts and, plagued by depression, lacked self-confidence. When depressed, he turned to alcohol and food; later, whenever the film studios wanted him trim, he crash-dieted. That damaged his heart and liver, contributing to his early death. Cesari, who loves Lanza and regrets he never realized his potential, traces the singer's various projects, assessing successes and failures. He includes material gleaned from the news and 30 years' worth of interviews with Lanza's family and friends. Along with interpretive personal commentary, Cesari poignantly tells the tragic story of a beautiful voice and the sick personality behind it. Roland Bessette covered the same life in his 1999 biography, but Cesari writes with greater love and includes a CD of selected performances, more than 250 photographs, and complete listings of Lanza's recordings, films, and other performances. Alan HirschCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved