Mario Lanza : The American Caruso The tempestuous life and artistic career of tenor/movie idol Mario Lanza, told through interviews with his friends, his children, his co-stars; and illustrated with television show and newsreel clips and feature film excerpts. (“The Toast of New Orleans”, “The Great Caruso”, “Because You’re Mine”, “The Student Prince”, “The Seven Hills of Rome”, etc.) Hosted by Placido Domingo.
Mario Lanza: The American Caruso is a 90-minute 1983 PBS documentary, narrated and hosted by Plácido Domingo. It explores the life of tenor Mario Lanza, and includes clips from six of the tenor’s eight films, together with interviews with such Lanza associates and contemporaries as Anna Moffo, Kathryn Grayson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Joe Pasternak, and Dorothy Kirsten, Frances Yeend, and the conductor Peter Herman Adler. The film also includes interviews and remembrances from Lanza’s mother and all four of his children. Production credits as follows: Written by Stephen Chodorov, Co-Executive Producer; Director John Musilli, Writer JoAnn Young.
Born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was exposed to classical singing at an early age by his Abruzzese–Molisan Italian parents. His mother Maria Lanza was from Tocco da Casauria, a town in the province of Pescara in the region of Abruzzo. His father Antonio Cocozza was from Filignano, a town in the province of Isernia in the region of Molise.
By age 16, his vocal talent had become apparent. Starting out in local operatic productions in Philadelphia for the YMCA Opera Company while still in his teens, he later came to the attention of longtime (1924–49) principal Boston Symphony conductor Serge Koussevitzky. In 1942, Koussevitzky provided young Cocozza with a full student scholarship to the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, Massachusetts. Reportedly, Koussevitzky later told him “Yours is a voice such as is heard once in a hundred years.”