Muriel Agnello is a writer based in Maryland, USA.
Mario’s introductions to some of his songs on his weekly radio show were as much a bonus as listening to his singing. He had a pleasing dulcet speaking voice and it was always a treat to hear him talk.
Here is his introduction to the 1929 Edgar Leslie-Walter Donaldson song Romance: “If all the things that poets and songwriters have ever written about love were brought together in one place, no library would be big enough to hold them. And yet, here is a song which sums it all up and distills it into one thrilling word, ‘Romance’.”
Indeed, he begins the song with a lush reading of the word, “Romance”. It is resonant, charged with anticipation, and locks us into the proper mood. He holds on to the first syllable as though telling us to listen carefully to what he has to say. Exactly what is romance? The dictionary tells us it is an experience that excites the imagination. Clearly, it is a word that can be packed full of meaning. Of course! As we listen to Mario sing, he delivers the lyrics in a thoughtful way that enables us to share in the enchantment. He conveys the feeling that romance can be a truly idyllic adventure. Musically he explains that it can lift us up from lonely emptiness, that we can all experience it at any time, and that we should be ready to accept it when the opportunity comes to us. In other words, it is a thrill not to be missed.
Mario’s musical artistry is very apparent here. The tempo is slow, and he articulates each word clearly so that we don’t miss anything. In a calm and soothing voice he glides along evenly, singing, “Romance, romance, may come with a spring or fall. When hearts are forlorn, it brings them the dawn of love”.
Musically he explains that romance can lift us up from lonely emptiness, that we can all experience it at any time.
He softly raises his tone on the word, “of”, and then eases back on “love”. Oh, so slight, but sweet. All throughout the song, the word, “romance”, is repeated by another “romance”. I find this to be an effective way to make us concentrate on the word so that we can imagine the potential depth of emotion that will envelop us if we give ourselves up to it. In the third pronouncement of this coupling, Mario echoes the second “romance” so softly that is almost an ethereal occurrence! He follows with, “Be eager to heed its call”, and we are now primed to do just that!
We can imagine the potential depth of emotion that will envelop us if we give ourselves up to it.
I like the way he sings, “Poetic words set to love notes of birds, sweetly blending….” “Poetic words” is presented in an elegant way – we know they are special.
Mario uses delicious phrasing on, “….fall from the tongue, (and they’re sung to a glorious ending…….. Rooo-mance….”). Surely he is out of breath by now, but he doesn’t falter in the least and sings “Romance” with as much ardor as you’d expect from that word.
Mario joyfully sings the last line, “Romance, romance, be eager to heed its call, for life is a void till you’ve enjoyed, Romance - Sweet - Romance”. The last three words, all sung on the same exuberant high note, exhilarate us and make us anxious to embrace this “Romance” for ourselves!!! Mario, you’ve captured our hearts once again!!