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Mario Lanza Sings Songs from "The Student Prince" and "The Desert Song" (1989 Remaster)

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A Lanza Double-Feature: 5 Stars for The Student Prince. 3 Stars for The Desert Song

This is a 1989 CD from BMG. One of the great Mario Lanza's best Lps was this soundtrack to the 1954 M-G-M film "The Student Prince." Romberg's evergreen operetta had been a hit for years and M-G-M gave it a grand treatment. Lanza was their reigning classical music star at the time, in the early 1950s, and they also cast wonderful Ann Blyth as the love interest. However, after disputes with the studio, he was dismissed and sued while this film was in production. The suit was settled when Lanza allowed the studio to use these 1952/53 RCA Victor recordings. Edmund Purdom played Prince Karl Franz instead of Mario, and the film was not the hit it could have been with him. That's a brief history of the film and the soundtrack record album, which was a huge bestseller in the 1950s. Lanza aficionados consider this Lp to be a masterpiece. It catches the young Lanza lyric tenor voice in resplendent voice, in music that represents youth, springtime and love. A perfect match of voice, music and lyrics. Listen to "Serenade," "Golden Days," "Deep in My Heart, Dear" and the three songs added to the film by Brodsky/Webster--"When It's Summertime in Heidelberg," "Beloved," and "I'll Walk With God." The last two became associated with Lanza and often show up in other compilations. All show the young Lanza voice at its most-impassioned. A wonderful set of recordings! The other music, from another Sigmund Romberg operetta hit of the 1920s, "The Desert Song," is a different matter. This was Lanza's very last recording, in August, 1959, just shortly before his early death at age 38. It's a hit-and-miss affair--Mario came in and laid down his vocals to a pre-recorded orchestral track. After his death, soprano Judith Raskin (who later became a Met Opera stalwart, and who is her usual terrific self here) and the other singers and the chorus in NYC were augmented into the tapes. Whew! The good news is that it's actually better than it should have been, under those circumstances! Lanza was in pretty good voice, especially on the title tune, "The Desert Song," "One Alone," "Azuri's Dance" and "One Flower in Your Garden." Indeed, he sounds a lot like his younger self, and certainly close to how he sounded in 1958 in his last film, "For the First Time." I do find "The Riff Song" pretty tough going, though, showing the 1959 Lanza voice at its heaviest and least-lyrical. And yet, for the most part in this album, some of the old Mario Magic again happens, and he summons up the vocal sweetness and charisma which made him a beloved singer, even all these years after his death. The original Lp had one of the great Mario Lanza RCA Victor jacket covers, by Frank Kalan, showing him in a romantic setting as a Valentino-like leading man holding the heroine under desert stars. A nice double-feature, then, with Mario Lanza at his greatest in "The Student Prince," and some pretty good singing in "The Desert Song." Good sound for the CD transfer.

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Mario Lanza Sings Songs from "The Student Prince" and "The Desert Song" (1989 Remaster), Mario Lanza
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