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David Weaver
11:40 AM ET (US)
I would guess Herbert's "Gypsy Love Song," from one of his earliest shows, "The Fortune Teller" in 1898.
10:31 AM ET (US)
Doug, Danny Boy was actually not set to the tune until 1913, when it officially became a song. Fred, yes, the Christmas songs are among the oldest that Mario sang in English but nearly all of the real old ones were written in languages other than English and adapted to English translations. I was looking for original, American songs. A song such as "Because" would not qualify even though it certainly is an oldie, because it was composed in French by Guy D'Hardelot. He also wrote the words to the song (Parce Que) with the English words added later by someone else. Caruso recorded it in the original French around 1913. However, a song such as "For You Alone", also recorded by Caruso and written about the same time as "Because", would qualify as it was an English language song from the get go. Nonetheless, we still need to go to the 19th century for the answer.
Edited 03-20-2018 10:31 AM
Fred Day
09:06 AM ET (US)
I suppose the oldest songs (in English) that Lanza recorded were several of the Christmas carols. As for which was the oldest, I am not sure. Ciao.
08:54 AM ET (US)
Londonderry Air/Danny Boy? It's an old tune but the lyrics are early 20th century.
Martino to Kristine
08:18 AM ET (US)
You named one of them - "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life". The third one in addition to your original guess of "I'm Falling In Love With Someone", is "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp".

Here is a hint for you, Kristine, on the original question of which of Lanza's American classic songs was the oldest: The one I "think" is the correct answer is even older than "My Wild Irish Rose", written in 1899 by Chauncey Olcott from Buffalo, NY. Olcott wrote it for his stage play, "A Romance of Athlone". That means we must go to the 19th century for our answer so take another shot at it.
06:17 AM ET (US)
Martino, I don't know what other songs, he sang, from it. I do know he didn't sing "The Italian Street Song" from it. That's sung by sopranos(Jane Powell sang it in one of her first movies). Mario Lanza sang these old tunes : "My Buddy", "Trees", "Wanting You" , "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life", "Yours Is My Heart Alone", "Lover, Come Back To Me", "Thine Alone", "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise", " A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody"(I wonder if Irving Berlin liked it and ever met Lanza ?) . Terry Robinson knew Cole Porter. I wonder if he ever met Mario ?
Martino to Kristine
09:03 PM ET (US)
Good guess Kristine. In fact, you are not far wrong. BTW, Mario sang other songs from "Naughty Marietta" (1910). Can you name the other songs that Mario recorded from this operetta?
06:14 PM ET (US)
Was the oldest song, sung by Mario Lanza, "I'm Falling In Love With Someone', written by Victor Herbert, from "Naughty Marietta" (1900's ) ?
05:16 PM ET (US)
We have been talking about Mario Lanza singing and modernizing old classic songs. Does anyone want to venture a guess as to the oldest song Lanza ever sang? I don't mean Italian songs or opera arias but the classic American songs, either composed individually or from stage works and musicals. I think I know the answer but I'm not sure so take a guess and include the composer and year of composition.
04:56 PM ET (US)
Dinah Shore sang "They Didn't Believe Me" in movie "Till The Clouds Roll By" the film bio about Jerome Kern, who was portrayed by Robert Walker. Dinah Shore also sang "The Last Time I Saw Paris" in that same movie. Years later, Ann Sothern(who sang it in "Lady, Be Good")was upset, her scene , singing the song, instead of Dinah Shore's scene , singing it, was in "That's Entertainment 2". She blamed Gene Kelly(who co-hosted the movie , with Fred Astaire), said he must have had a say in that, because she claimed Kelly didn't like her.
Ronald Sarbo
01:11 PM ET (US)
Prior to Lanza Dick Haymes on Decca and a young Vic Damone on Mercury recorded "They Didn't Believe Me". How "modern" their versions are is a matter of opinion but the song was well known by the time of the Lanza/Grayson duet and Lanza's subsequent RCA recording.

Johnny Mercer on Capitol and Dinah Shore on Columbia also recorded the song prior to Lanza.

After Lanza Al Martino made 2 recordings of the song. First on Capitol and later on 20th Century Fox.

Frank Sinatra sang it on his first TV series.
Gail Swartz
10:25 AM ET (US)
So glad to be home...been without computer access...p l aced 10th in Sweet Adelines competition in Houston....so busy ...Missed all of you! I may rest while listening to my favorite singer. Mario was in my head even though there was no sound except when snippets surfaced and my voice just opened up and sang. We are so blessed to have had Mario to sing.
Jim Thompson
08:59 AM ET (US)
Again, Martino, so well said. Mario's understanding of lyrics, superb emphasis of the words and feeling for the exact moment for taking a breath brought the perfect meaning to it all. Oh, yes, and the voice!!
07:26 AM ET (US)
Giannina Mia is but one example of how Lanza modernized old songs in a way to make them relevant to modern audiences. I consider this to be one of Mario Lanza's greatest contributions to music. It is interesting to go through his discography and compare songs written during the golden age with those renditions which came before him. Let's look at another old classic, "They Didn't Believe Me", sung by Mario Lanza and Kathryn Grayson in Mario's first motion picture, "That Midnight Kiss". This song was written by Jerome Kern for his 1914 musical "The Girl From Utah". It was very popular from that time right up to the '60s and was sung by many artists through that fifty year span.

Here is one of the first recordings of this song by Walter Van Brunt and Gladys Rice - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLn8fyE0saQ. This is what Kern had in mind for the song but it is a product of its time and it would never be mistaken for a "modern" version, such as sung by Mario Lanza and Kathryn Grayson. Although many recordings were made after this Van Brunt record, most of them showed the same kind of "old time" phrasing and rhythm. No one gave it a modern, upbeat version until Lanza. Even Kathryn Grayson's solo version of this tune falls short of her duet with Lanza. He obviously had an influence on her. Just compare this movie duet with the Rice/Van Brunt recording mentioned above and you can hear the "modernization" that made this old song much easier on the ears of audiences of the day and even to our time. This trend or evolution continued as we can hear in the 1964 recording by Dean Martin, who sings it entirely different (for better or worse) for an even more modern audience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgIgYkzqiEc. Perhaps the best examples of how Lanza influenced singers who came after him can be heard in George Sander's recording of this song. Sanders takes the same care and slower tempo as Lanza to emphasize the importance of the words. The same can be said of Edward Woodward's even more modern and beautiful rendition, with an equally beautiful orchestral background.

The point is that Mario Lanza came along at just the right time when pre war tastes were rapidly loosing favor to post war enthusiasm and confidence. No one gave to songs, new or old, this enthusiasm and confidence better than did Mario Lanza.
06:57 AM ET (US)
Hope everyone had a Happy St. Pat's Day ! In the film clip of M-G-M's 25th Anniversary, in 1949, Mario Lanza is seated in between Angela Lansbury and Janet Leigh(at the time, she was dating Barry Nelson, who was friends with Mario. In her autobiography, "There Really Was A Hollywood", she wrote that she met Mario Lanza, through Barry). Jeanette MacDonald and Deborah Kerr were seated near Angela Lansbury, Mario Lanza, and Janet Leigh. I think Jeanette MacDonald was talking to Lanza, in the film clip(she was from Philadelphia, too). Lena Horne is also in that film clip. The stamp honoring her, for Black History Month, is out, now. Later this year, Beatle John Lennon and Mr. Rogers("Mr. Rogers's Neighborhood")will be on stamps. Hoping one day, there will be a Mario Lanza stamp, along with Perry Como, Astaire-Rogers, Gene Kelly, Mac/Eddy, and a stamp honoring doo wop music. I wonder if Mario Lanza liked doo wop music ? On the subject of "The Firefly" , I wonder if Allan Jones was a fan of Mario Lanza ?
04:38 AM ET (US)
Martino—super critique of Giannina. Undoubtedly one of Mario's most thrilling performances. I'll always remember buying the EP 45 as a child, playing it for the first time and thinking, as he got to "there you shall rule ..." portending a High C finish, "Oh no, he won't, will he?" Then Kaboom! He did!
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