Loosely traces the life of tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921). He loves Musetta, in his home town of Naples, and then Dorothy, the daughter of one of the Metropolitan Opera's patrons. Caruso ... See full summary »
The brilliance of one of the world's most beloved tenors and the exciting world of opera highlight this delightful romantic adventure set in the most beautiful cities of Europe. Tonio Costa... See full summary »
Johanna von Koczian,
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Loosely traces the life of tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921). He loves Musetta, in his home town of Naples, and then Dorothy, the daughter of one of the Metropolitan Opera's patrons. Caruso is unacceptable to both women's fathers: to one, because he sings; to Dorothy's, because he is a peasant. To New York patricians, Caruso is short, barrel chested, loud, emotional, unrefined. Their appreciation comes slowly. The film depicts Caruso's lament that "the man does not have the voice, the voice has the man": he cannot be places he wants to be, because he must be elsewhere singing, including the day his mother dies. Throughout, Mario Lanza and stars from the Met sing. Written by
Jesse L. Lasky, who served as associate producer on this film, also knew the real Enrico Caruso. In 1918, while serving as the head of Famous Players (later Paramount) Studio, Lasky had paid Caruso to star in two silent films, My Cousin (1918) and The Splendid Romance (1919), neither of which was commercially successful. See more »
I suppose it would be too much to expect a studio like MGM to produce a realistic biography of the legendary tenor in 1951--a year when the studio's reputation for glossy technicolor musicals was at an all-time high. They overproduced many a musical with strong star drawing power to fill the Radio City Music Hall with their products--and were certainly aiming to target the widest possible audience for this Caruso story with their new discovery--Mario Lanza.
Lanza's rich lyrical tenor is given a showcase in which to perform both Neapolitan songs and operatic arias and he doesn't disappoint. Casting him as Caruso was a shrewd and clever decision--but the letdown comes in the fictionalized story that bears little resemblance to the true background of the singer. Artificial touches abound--including Ann Blythe as his wife. Nevertheless, since enjoyment of the film depends entirely on whether or not you enjoy the singing talent of Mario Lanza (and his limited acting abilities), you should find this biography a lightweight treatment of Caruso's life--although highly incomplete and sometimes even inaccurate. Perhaps some day there will be a true biography of the singer.
If nothing else, should compel some viewers to explore Caruso's life for the real story. Incidentally, there is a new song, "The Loveliest Night of the Year", which rates utmost respect. The soundtrack is great to listen to--Lanza was in the best of voice at the time of recordings.
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