#26 Serenade from The Student Prince (Live radio, 1946)
Mario Lanza first sang the famous "Serenade" from Sigmund Romberg (1887-1951)'s and Dorothy Donnelly (1880-1928)'s 1924 operetta The Student Prince on a live radio broadcast on CBS's "Great Moments in Music" on 6 February 1946. The conductor was Sylvan Levin, and the performance was broadcast from the Liederkranz Hall, New York City. This rendition was Lanza's only live performance of a song that would subsequently become closely associated with him.
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Mario Lanza and wife, Betty, 1946
#27 Serenade from The Student Prince (Radio, 1952)
Lanza recorded his second version of the "Serenade" for his Coca-Cola-sponsored weekly radio show on 2 May 1952. The conductor was Ray Sinatra. This recording was first commercially released on the 1993 BMG CD Don't Forget Me.
Lanza performing on his Coca-Cola-sponsored radio show in 1952
#28 Serenade from The Student Prince (MGM/RCA soundtrack, 1952)
Lanza recorded his third and most famous version of the "Serenade" for the MGM film of the same name on 29 July 1952. Constantine Callinicos was the conductor. On this version, some of Dorothy Donnelly's original lyrics were substantially altered by famed lyricist Paul Francis Webster (see below). RCA released this rendition (albeit with a different sound mix to that heard in the film) on the LP The Student Prince and Hit Songs from Other Musical Comedies, which went on to become the tenor's best-selling album. The best reproduction of that album is on the 2009 BMG 5-CD set Mario Lanza: Original Album Classics.
Lanza rehearsing a song from The Student Prince with MGM producer Joe Pasternak (left) and accompanist/conductor Constantine Callinicos
#29 Serenade from The Student Prince (RCA, 1959)
Mario Lanza's final version of the "Serenade" was recorded for RCA in Rome in April 1959 as part of a stereo remake of The Student Prince. (The exact date is unknown due to RCA Italiana's notoriously lax attitude toward maintaining details of its recordings!) The conductor was Paul Baron. As of June 2013, this recording has only ever been officially released on CD by BMG Japan.
Original LP cover of Lanza's 1959 version of The Student Prince
Serenade (original lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly) Overhead the moon is beaming, white as blossoms on the bough. Nothing is heard but the song of a bird, filling all the air with dreaming. Could my heart but still its beating! Only you can tell it how, Beloved. From your window give me greeting, hear my eternal vow!
Soft in the trees sighs the echo of my longing, while all around you my dreams of rapture throng. [Chorus: Visions glowing, around me thronging] My soul, my joy, my hope, my fear, your heart must tell you that I am near. Lean from above while I pour out my love, for you know through my life you are loved. Oh, hear my longing cry! Oh, love me or I die!
Overhead the moon is beaming, white as blossoms on the bough. Nothing is heard but the song of a bird, filling all the air with dreaming. Could my heart but still its beating! Only you can tell it how, Beloved. From your window give me greeting, I swear my eternal love!
Serenade (MGM film lyrics, rewritten by Paul Francis Webster) Overhead the moon is beaming, white as blossoms on the bough. Nothing is heard but the song of a bird, filling all the air with dreaming. Could I hear this song forever? Calling to my heart anew, my darling. While I drift along forever Lost in a dream of you!
I hear your voice in the wind that stirs the willows, I see your face in the stars that shine above! [Chorus: Hold me closer: tonight we love] The willows bending; the stars that shine The shorelights blending; they're yours and mine. Drifting along in my heart there's a song And the song in my heart will not fade Oh hear my serenade, my moonlight serenade!
Overhead the moon is beaming, white as blossoms on the bough. Nothing is heard but the song of a bird, filling all the air with dreaming. Could this beauty last forever? I would ask for nothing more, believe me. Let this night but live forever! Forever and ever more!