Enrico Caruso
My Father and My Family
By Enrico Caruso, Jr. and Andrew Farkas
(Chapter 33, page 546)

(The following extract appears in the book Enrico Caruso, My Father and My Family published in 1990 by Amadeus Press. Our thanks to Pat Burkhart for sending this in.)
"Come now! Caruso had no sons, he only had a daughter. I saw it in the Movies." (The Great Caruso).
The film was rife with distortions and did a disservice to my father¹s memory. All the same, it made a star of Mario Lanza and through him performed an invaluable service to opera. Lanza became a household name: thanks to him, opera was no longer as art form for an elite group of eggheads, but was acceptable entertainment for all. Vocally and musically, The Great Caruso is a thrilling motion picture, and it has helped many young people discover opera and even become singers themselves. Jose Carreras is one of them.
It was Lanza who made the picture a success. While the crowds idolized him, the experts and purists insisted that he was a far cry from the real thing, that he had no business impersonating the great Enrico Caruso, that he was no more than a gifted amateur who never learned to sing properly.
In my opinion, this was a facile and unfair dismissal. Mario Lanza was born with one of the dozen or so great tenor voices of the century, with a natural gift for placement, an unmistakable and very pleasing timbre, and a nearly infallible musical instinct conspicuously absent in the overwhelming majority of so-called "great" singers. His diction was flawless, matched only by the superb Giusseppe di Stefano. His delivery was impassioned, his phrasing manly, and his tempi instinctively right -- qualities that few singers are born with and others can never attain.
Musically speaking, Lanza grew up on records, including my fathers, yet he imitated no one; his recordings of operatic selections are original interpretations. Let it not be forgotten that Mario Lanza excelled in both the classical and the light popular repertory, an accomplishment that was beyond even my father¹s exceptional talents. Lanza¹s acting may have been elementary, but his innate charm and sincerity compensated for any awkwardness. In addition to these attributes, Lanza bore a passing physical resemblance to my father. I can think of no other tenor, before or since Mario Lanza, who could have risen with comparable success to the challenge of playing Caruso in a screen biography. As one London reviewer put it: "It says something for Mario Lanza that in impersonating this living cathedral of sound, he never once (while he is singing, anyway) makes the performance seem embarrassing or inadequate." I only regret that Lanza was not given a script faithful to the facts to immortalize the Caruso story and through it his own art.