Crossover opera and musical theatre singer Andrew Bain will bring a re-worked version of his tribute to 1950s singer and movie star Mario Lanza to London’s Opera in the City Festival this week.
Written and performed by Bain and directed by Anthony Shrubsall, Lanza will play the Bridewell Theatre on the 2 and 5 August.
Tracing the troubled life of one of the world’s most famous tenors, the show opens in the Rome clinic where the acclaimed singer and Hollywood movie star would spend his final days.
A scratchy record featuring the voice of Enrico Caruso, the famous American tenor Lanza famously played in The Great Caruso, triggers the Italian-American singer whose stunning voice and charisma made him a star to take a trip back through a tumultuous life and career.
Once marketed as the ‘singing dentist’ after signing a recording contract to record an album of operatic versions of pop songs, Bain has performed with many of the UK’s leading opera companies and played some of musical theatre’s biggest roles including Tony in West Side Story and Boone in Whistle Down the Wind.
One of the biggest stars of the 1950s and an inspiration for numerous world famous opera stars, Lanza was labelled ‘the singing Clark Cable’ from the moment he burst on to the screen alongside the top-billed Kathryn Grayson in 1949 in That Midnight Kiss and in 1950 in The Toast of New Orleans.
Lanza’s screen success came at a cost, with classical music enthusiasts critical of his move away from performing opera, and his battles with weight gain and alcohol reportedly leading to the premature end of his glittering movie career.
His death in Rome at the age of 38 came just months after he recorded the soundtrack for what would be his final film For the First Time at the famous Rome Opera House and at a time when he looked set to re-kindle his operatic stage career.