The American lirico spinto tenor Mario Lanza (1921-1959) possessed, in the opinion of Plácido Domingo, "one of the truly great natural tenor voices of the past century—a voice of beauty, passion, and power."
His brief but meteoric career included acclaimed performances in opera, sold-out concert tours, million-selling records, and the title role in MGM's box-office hit The Great Caruso (1951). He was also a highly influential artist. "If I’m an opera singer," José Carreras has said, "it’s thanks to Mario Lanza."
Yet he remains a controversial figure in musicological circles, marginalized for having achieved his fame in Hollywood films instead of on the world's great operatic stages. Moreover, the often outrageous myths that dogged Lanza in his lifetime linger to this day.