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Classical 101

Opera Columbus Presents A Tribute to Mario Lanza

ONE AUDIO FILE   The one irrefutable fact about Mario Lanza (1921-1959) is that he had an absolutely sensational God-given tenor voice. Each of The Three Tenors of the 1980s - Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and especially Jose Carreras  - cited the films of Mario Lanza they saw as kids, in Italy and in Spain that made them want to sing. His life was complicated and his legacy is messy, depending on who you read. His death at age thirty-eight, in his magnificent vocal prime, was a shock that robbed the world of opera a magnificent talent. Opera Columbus is presenting A Mario Lanza Tribute Concert, Saturday, December 12, at 8 pm in the Palace Theatre, Columbus. Tickets from 614-469-0939 or go to www.operacolumbus.org Mario Lanza's daughter, Elissa Lanza Bregman, will be there. I recently spoke to her on the phone from her home in California: [audio:lanza1.mp3] My talk with Elissa made me pull out my own Mario Lanza CDs. I'm glad I did. His voice is never short of spectacular. Whatever demons that might have chased him didn't come near his throat. Koussevitzky, Goldovsky, Moffo, Merrill, Tucker, Stokowski-these great artists of the classical music field of the 1950s and 60s revered Lanza's voice. The Great Caruso has little to do really with that great artist of the distant past, but it is a wonderful film filled with great singing. We dismiss Lanza at our own peril. The point of having any talent is to give joy, and fifty years after his death, if you want to go from down to way, way, up, listen to Mario Lanza.

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.