As I grew to appreciate his singing, and all that he was to me—be it his engulfing charisma, his zest for life, his openness or his vulnerability—nothing prepared me for the sudden and tragic end so early in his life.
I rank his death in my memory bank with a few other deaths that deeply affected me such as those of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and the victims of September 11, 2001.
Lanza has led me over the years to seek out more operatic tenors, more arias, and people who discuss the man himself and his art in forums such as Mario Lanza, Tenor.
In my fifties, I searched for and found many lovely operas, and discovered other tenors, especially the great ones who had dominated the world of opera in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Many wonderful sopranos also captured my interest. As I became more aware of the beauty of operatic stories and music, I developed a strong love of this art form.
Tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano
Having a home computer at my disposal since the early 1990s opened many doors for me to opera. With the advent of videos streaming over the net (e.g. on YouTube), a whole new world opened for my enjoyment, and all because of Lanza's early influence.
Lanza singing "Nessun Dorma"
I always had recordings of Lanza my whole adult life, but never really sought out other operatic singers until my youngest daughter Casey, now twenty-one, remarked to me one day that she loved the sound of Lanza's voice, and that her favourite opera "song" was Lanza singing "Nessun Dorma."
That was the spark, and it ignited me to search for other tenors to share with her, along with operas in general, and the two of would sit together and soak up some of the world's greatest music.
As I think back on all those years, and then reverse the process, bringing my thoughts to the present, I can see how strongly my life has been enriched by my own personal connection to Mario Lanza.
Lanza unlocked the door, and I entered a world of fine music and astounding tenor voices.
Mario Lanza has been my close friend—always with me as I listened to his singing, during the best and the worst times of my life. He has been a part of my boyhood years and my adult years. He has been a part of my parenting to my own children, as his voice was shared with them all. He was even in my thoughts when I had reason to believe, at the age of thirty-three, that I was about to perish from a serious gunshot wound I had received when I was a police officer.
Mario Lanza's talent and long-lasting legacy have enriched my life in many ways, and this enrichment includes becoming very good friends with those who also share their words and thoughts on Lanza forums and opera sites. These include people from all over the world. With his exceptional gifts, Lanza has brought us together.
Thank you for reading my thoughts everyone—and to Mario: thank you, old friend, for never being too far away.