One of my grandmother’s favorite movies was The Student Prince. A wonderful musical about a prince who falls in love with a bar maid in Hidelberg Germany.
That film introduced me to the voice of Mario Lanza, the great American tenor, which in turn led me to a lifelong love of opera.
The history behind the making of the film is quite interesting.
Mario Lanza was hired to play the main lead. He first went into the studio and recorded the soundtrack – which rumor has it he cut all the songs in one take.
On the very first day of filming, he got into a spat with the director who felt that his singing on the tracks and his expressiveness on film was too over the top – to emotional. More operatic, than Broadway. Lanza walked off the set and quit the film that day. (The belief that he was sacked because of being overweight is simply not true and was created by MGM to disparage him)
MGM’s contract allowed the use of Lanza’s voice for the film even though he had quit the production. They hired the British actor, Edmund Purdom, to lip sync to Mario’s voice. He truly does a remarkable job in the film. But it is Lanza’s voice that makes this move soar. As Purdom recalled years later, “It was enough to make you sweat, just listening to that voice.”
In what must have been satisfying to Lanza, upon release of the film and a record of the songs, the record was much more of a success than the film.
Here is a clip from the movie of the great song – Beloved. My God – what a voice.
If you have the chance, watch this movie and be blown away at a once in a lifetime voice.
Author of Temepsta’s Dream and A. Song for Bellafortuna