Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Great Caruso (1951)

This is a movie that won't work for most people, cuz this is really not much of a biography, but more of a movie for opera lovers, showcasing Mario Lanza.  There is nominal plot, and really, it takes a lot of liberties with Caruso's life.  However, it's full of entire opera arias and Italian songs and for someone like me, that is sheer joy.  It's like putting on a DVD instead of a highlights disc.  This is a movie to watch if you're in the mood for all the famous tenor arias in one place, sung by Mario Lanza, who couldn't be a more ideal choice to play Enrico Caruso.  Celeste Aida, Vesti la Giubba, La Donna e Mobile, E Lucevan le Stelle, the sextet from Lucia, the quartet from Rigoletto, Cavalleria, etc. etc. It's chock full of music I love!

I was also happy to see and hear Dorothy Kirsten as soprano Louise Heggar.  She got to sing a couple solo pieces herself, including one of my favorite soprano arias from Aida.  Yay!  My dad was always fond of her, as he grew up hearing her sing on the Voice of Firestone radio show, so I appreciated getting to not just hear her, but see her as well.

Ann Blyth plays Caruso's wife, Dorothy who falls for him the first time he sings for her.  I admit, I'm a sucker for being serenaded, so can't blame her one bit.  LOL.  She even gets to sing a song herself, It's the Loveliest Night of the Year, a song I've always loved.  I love the way she tells him she's pregnant, and the way he finds out he has a baby girl during the Lucia sextet... quite amusing.

This movie influenced many a future opera singer, including Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, and I can see how.  Lanza's in great voice, looks great, and they show the opera life as quite glamorous.  It's a fun movie for opera lovers, and one I'm happy I own, so I can put it on whenever I'm in a mood for Lanza. 

If I had a time machine, one of the things on my agenda would be to go back and hear Enrico Caruso sing.  We're lucky to have many recordings of his arias, but this was the infancy of recording, and if he sounds that good on those old recordings, imagine what he sounded like live?  I'd love to go back and find out.


  1. I admit that my only knowledge of Caruso was a joke that Sebastian made in The Little Mermaid II. I wish I could say I'll watch it, but my library doesn't own a copy. I'll have to hunt around online and see if maybe Amazon Prime has it up or something. I love Italian actors so I suspect I'd really enjoy The Great Caruso.

    1. It's light, fluffy, cheesy, and old-fashioned, charming, and full of opera! I don't know if would appeal to anyone else, but it was just the sort of entertainment I needed the other night! If you do catch it someday, I'd be curious what you think.