Music, Mafiosi and MGM in Mario Lanza show

AMERICAN tenor, Mario Lanza, one author said, “blazed like a meteor whose light lasts a brief moment in time”.

Blake Bowden as Mario Lanza_credit David McCarthy

Blake Bowden as Mario Lanza_credit David McCarthy

Born Alfred Arnold Cocozza, he began studying to be a singer at the age of 16.  After appearing at the Hollywood Bowl he signed a seven-year film contract with Louis B. Mayer, the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, though he had actually sung only two performances of an opera and would never be regarded as a serious opera performer.

His most famous songs included “Be My Love”,   “The Loveliest Night of the Year”,   “Because You’re Mine” and “Serenade” from “The Student Prince”, which, because of a row with MGM, he voiced for Edmund Purdom.

Phil Scott and Blake Bowden_credit David McCarthy

Phil Scott and Blake Bowden_credit David McCarthy

Known as the most famous tenor in the world, it was somehow inevitable that the Hollywood idol should play the role of legendary tenor Enrico Caruso in the 1951 movie “The Great Caruso,” but his addiction to food and booze were almost as famous as his singing and just 10 years later, sacked by MGM, he died mysteriously at the age of 38.

Why? musical performers Phil Scott and Blake Bowden ask in their travelling show, coming to The Courtyard Studio this week.  Was it the rapid weight gains and losses, overseen by the studio? Was it burnout? Was it alcohol? Was it just that fame went to his head? And were the Mafia involved in his death?

“MARIO: The story and music of Mario Lanza,” re-creates an era of memorable music, murderous Mafiosi, and Hollywood Moghul Mayer. Bowden sings as Lanza, while the multi-talented Scott, best known from the Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue, plays the piano and a variety of quirky characters in the singer’s life.

 “MARIO: The story and music of Mario Lanza,” at The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, 8pm, May 19-21, bookings to canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.

 

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