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Blessed with one of the great tenor voices of all time, Mario Lanza (1921-1959) rose to spectacular heights in a film, recording, and concert career that spanned little more than a decade. Groomed at the outset for a career on the opera stage, Lanza instead flourished in Hollywood where his films, most notably The Great Caruso, broke box-office records the world over and influenced the careers of countless musicians. To this day, the Three Tenors cite him as an inspiration for their own careers on the classical ...
Blessed with one of the great tenor voices of all time, Mario Lanza (1921-1959) rose to spectacular heights in a film, recording, and concert career that spanned little more than a decade. Groomed at the outset for a career on the opera stage, Lanza instead flourished in Hollywood where his films, most notably The Great Caruso, broke box-office records the world over and influenced the careers of countless musicians. To this day, the Three Tenors cite him as an inspiration for their own careers on the classical stage. Lanza's recordings for RCA sold in the millions, and he remains the crossover artist supreme.
But his tremendous success was derailed by his self-destructive lifestyle, and by age thirty-eight he was dead, with his extraordinary promise left unfulfilled.
Newly revised and updated for its first U.S. edition, Mario Lanza: Singing to the Gods is the definitive account of the remarkable life and times of one of the twentieth century's most beloved singing stars. This richly detailed work also contains a selection of rare photographs, several of which are drawn from Lanza's estate.
With the support of Lanza's daughter, Ellisa Lanza Bregman, the tenor's colleagues, and his closest friend Terry Robinson, Derek Mannering has chronicled a fascinating and unforgettable life. From the fabulous successes of the early MGM years through the disastrous walkouts and cancellations that sent Lanza's career into freefall, Mannering objectively and movingly reveals the story of a great star torn apart by his own troubled psyche and undisciplined lifestyle.
Derek Mannering, Park Ridge, Illinois, is the author of Mario Lanza: A Life in Pictures.
Posted February 9, 2010
This is a fair, balanced rendering of the life of Mario Lanza. It is written with the blessing of the family, namely Lanza's surviving daughter, but does not smooth over negative portions of his life. A very
interesting read and a good read in general.
Posted September 27, 2005
When I read Derek Mannering's first book, MARIO LANZA - A BIOGRAPHY, in 1993, I knew then that this was the best work written to date on the great tenor who was my boyhood idol and musical inspiration. Yet that was only the beginning: since then, Mannering has produced two other first-rate books, SINGING TO THE GODS and MARIO LANZA - A LIFE IN PICTURES (both published in the UK), that have been even better than his first effort. He has also in those years become BMG's primary consultant on the release of new Mario Lanza CDs, resulting in Lanza's return to the best-seller lists in the UK, even hitting #1 with THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION -- a remarkable feat for a singer who died five decades ago. Now, happily, the first-ever American edition of MARIO LANZA - SINGING TO THE GODS has been published by University Press of Mississippi. Not merely a copy of Mannering's book produced for the UK, this new, updated edition includes never-before-released material in the way of photos and interviews, including several poignant reminisces of Lanza's niece, actress Dolores Hart, who retired from the screen more than 40 years ago to become a nun, Mother Dolores. As in his previous works, Mannering has had the blessings and cooperation of two very important people in Mario Lanza's life - his best friend and trainer, Terry Robinson, and Lanza's only surviving daughter, Elissa Lanza Bregman, who wrote the book's heartfelt Foreword. Always written in a lively and entertaining style, the strength of Derek Mannering's books lies in the fact that he focuses on Mario Lanza's incredible talent, and how he used that talent -- thru films, radio, television, concerts and recordings -- to bring the world of opera and great music to the average person. And, at the same time, influencing more of today's opera singers than almost any other artist in memory. Mannering points out Lanza's flaws and mistakes, which caused the singer much difficulty and heartache in his lifetime, and more than a little controversy that lingers to this day. Yet at the same time, Mannering does not dwell on these failings. And while, like all others who have written Lanza bios, Mannering ponders the 'what ifs,' he does not invent a career which Lanza never had, and celebrates instead the remarkable career for what it was and what it achieved, which was considerable. For those who might wonder how Derek Mannering's SINGING TO THE GODS stacks up to the other books out there (and Lanza has more bios than almost any other singer I can think of), I would let Mario's daughter, Elissa, speak in the closing words of her Foreword: 'Anyone who wants to know about the life and times of Mario Lanza need go no further than this book.' DAVID WEAVER is the author of BLACK DIVA OF THE THIRTIES - THE LIFE OF RUBY ELZY, published in 2004 by University Press of Mississippi.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.