On This Day: Watch All of Mario Lanza’s Vocal Performances From His 8 Films

By David Salazar

Mario Lanza was born on Jan. 31, 1921, but unfortunately lived just 38 years, dying in 1959.

Everyone knows who Lanza is. Regardless of whether you go to the opera or not, the matinee idol’s sunshine voice is among the most recognizable in the history of the 20th century music.

Lanza’s great face and our memory of his voice really comes down to his cinematic output, which surprisingly comes down to just eight films released between 1949 and 1959. Yet, those songs were packed with tremendous musical material and it is our intention to showcase as much of it as is possible, allowing connoisseurs and newcomers to the great artist a window into his artistic soul.

That Midnight Kiss (1949)

His first film, Lanza plays Italian tenor Johnny Donnetti, who finds himself stuck in a love triangle. The film was directed by Norman Taurog and stars Kathryn Grayson (with whom Lanza shares a few duets), José Iturbi and Ethel Barrymore among others. Lanza sings five selections in the 98-minute film.

Mamma Mia, Che Vo’ Sape

Una Furtiva Lagrima

Celeste Aida

They Didn’t Believe Me

I Know, I Know, I Know, Love Is Music

One Love of Mine (This number was cut from the final version of the film)

The Toast of New Orleans (1950)

One year later, audiences got to see Lanza sing even more musical numbers in his second collaboration with Taurog and Grayson. The film also features David Niven. Lanza plays a fisherman that can sing and performs a whopping 10 numbers.

Be My Love

The Tina-Lina (with Rita Moreno)

Flower Song From “Carmen;” M’Apparì and “L’Africana” – O Paradiso

La Traviata: Libiamo, Libiamo Nei Lieti Calici (with Grayson)

I’ll Never Love You

The Bayou Lullaby (with Kathryn Grayson)

Madama Butterfly: Vogliatemi Bene (with Kathryn Grayson)

The Great Caruso (1951)

Lanza’s big breakout and the film for which he is best known is the Enrico Caruso “biopic” from 1951, directed by Richard Thorpe and featuring Ann Blyth, Dorothy Kirsten, Jarmila Novotna, Richard Hageman, Carl Benton Reid and Eduard Franza among others. But this is film, more than any other, belongs to Lanza and he sings a total of 13 numbers.


A Vucchella

La Danza

Rigoletto: La Donna è Mobile

Aida: Celeste Aida and O Terra Addio (with Dorothy Kirsten and Blanche Thebom)

Torna a Surriento


Pagliacci: Vesti la Giubba

Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod version, with Jacqueline Allen, soprano)

the Sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor (with Dorothy Kirsten, Gilbert Russell, Nicola Moscona, Blanche Thebom, and Giuseppe Valdengo)


M’Apparì and the Finale from Act IV of Martha (with Dorothy Kirsten, Nicola Moscona, and Blanche Thebom)

There are also a few operatic montages from “Tosca,” “Cavalleria Rusticana,” “Il Trovatore,” “Rigoletto,” and “La Gioconda” with numerous different singers, including Valdengo, Olive May Beach, Marina Koshetz and Lucine Amara.


Because You’re Mine (1952)

For the 1952 film, directed by Alexander Hall, Lanza got to sing nine pieces, some that had already been featured in earlier films.

Because You’re Mine (three times – twice with Loretta Morrow, soprano)

Cavalleria Rusticana: Addio alla Madre

Mamma Mia, Che Vo’ Sape?

Rigoletto: Questa o Quella

The Song Angels Sing


The Lord’s Prayer

Rigoletto: Addio! Addio! (with Peggy Bonini, sop.)

Sconto Col Sangue Mio from Il Trovatore


The Student Prince (1954)

Lanza did not actually appear in the 1954 film due to a dispute with MGM. That said, his voice is heard throughout after the studio retained the rights to the soundtrack that he had already recorded. Instead, Edmund Purdom replaced Lanza as Prince Karl, but he only acts as the face for the great singers voice.


Summertime in Heidelberg (with Ann Blyth)

Drink! Drink! Drink! (Romberg)

Ergo Bibamus

Deep in My Heart, Dear (with Ann Blyth)


I’ll Walk With God

Golden Days

Serenade (1956)

The Singer made his big return in 1956, making up for seemingly lost ground in the four years he was absent from the screen. There are a ton of operatic classics in this film with Lanza’s repertoire choice moving into more dramatic roles.

La Danza

Torna a Surriento

My Destiny

La Bohème: O Soave Fanciulla (abridged version, with Jean Fenn, soprano)
Der Rosenkavalier: Di Rigori Armato & Fedora: Amor Ti Vieta

Il Trovatore: Di Quella Pira

Otello: Dio! Mi Potevi Scagliar

Otello: Dio Ti Giocondi (with Licia Albanese, sop.)

Ave Maria (Schubert)

Serenade (by Cahn-Brodszky: twice)

L’Africana: O Paradiso

L’Arlesiana: Lamento di Federico

Turandot: Nessun Dorma

Seven Hills of Rome (1957)

Lanza’s second to last film takes him to Rome for yet another romance that also stars Renato Rascel and Marisa Allasio.

Arrivederci, Roma (with Luisa Di Meo, street urchin)

Rigoletto: Questa o Quella


Seven Hills of Rome

For the First Time (1959)

The irony of the title is quote poignant as this film would be the last time the tenor would grace the silver screen.

Bella Figlia dell’Amore

Come Prima

O Sole Mio

Pagliacci: Vesti la Giubba

Così Fan Tutte: E Voi Ridete

Otello: Niun Mi Tema

Ave Maria

Pineapple Pickers

Aida: Gloria all’Egitto


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