Cover image for Mario Lanza : an American tragedy
Mario Lanza : an American tragedy
Cesari, Armando, 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Fort Worth, Tex. : Baskerville Publishers, [2004]

Physical Description:
xix, 364 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm + 1 audio disc (74:53 min. ; 4 3/4 in.).
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML420.L24 C48 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Lanza's career and personal life are examined with great sensitivity and the authority of more than twenty years of research with the full cooperation of Lanza's family.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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 Hirsch Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Australian singer Cesari profiles Italian American tenor Lanza (1921-59) in an enjoyable read that includes hundreds of photos and an audio CD. Lanza's vocal prowess foreshadowed a successful operatic career, but movie-industry bigwigs noticed his good looks and pushed him in a different direction, one that led from army shows and recitals to starring roles at the Hollywood Bowl and in films from the late 1940s until his untimely death. Having interviewed Lanza's family members and colleagues, Cesari fully explores Lanza's struggles with his insecurities, alcohol abuse, and extravagant appetites, both monetary and gustatory. His effort is not without its weaknesses-he puts Lanza on a pedestal and dismisses anyone who does not with phrases such as "ghastly" or "trying to demolish him." The spare recording gives just a glimmer of the singer's talent-and the correct track listing on the CD is at odds with the brief descriptions of the numbers found in the book. This book complements Roland Bessette's overblown Mario Lanza: Tenor in Exile, which presents Lanza's intimates from a different perspective. Recommended especially for public libraries and collections with 20th-century film, opera, or popular culture emphases.-Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.