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    Join date : 2011-07-17


    Post  Bosie on Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:31 pm

    1.0 out of 5 stars

    Unadulterated Rubbish!, December 7, 2009
    By Armando Cesari (REAL NAME)

    A while back I was asked in one of the Lanza forums if I was aware that a new biography on Lanza by one, David Bret, had been written. I answered briefly that I was not remotely interested in anything Bret wrote, as his penchant for sensationalism is well known. Bret, who excels in mudslinging, but falls apart at the mere suggestion that he is not the paragon of truth he'd like the gullible reader to believe he is, shot back immediately by stating that my biography of Lanza was very over-rated, a rehash of previously published material, and should be avoided at all costs.

    Now, Bret's claim (that my book is a rehash of previously published material) is simply laughable, as I interviewed close to a hundred people over a period of almost thirty years and provided copious reference notes for each chapter. What has Bret done? Precisely what he accuses me of. There are no reference notes -how could there be, since all he's done is to base just about the entire contents of the book on all previously published Lanza biographies , including mine and without acknowledging me, rewording the original texts, and padding the rest of the book with sheer inventions. There are no reference notes- just a succession of "it was suggested, it was reported, sources claimed, reputed to," etc.

    Apart from factual errors on just about every page, musically the man hasn't a clue! He claims that " There's no such thing as a bad Lanza performance." He then proceeds to praise what just about everyone regards as Lanza's worst recording session, Lanza on Broadway. Speak Low, he says, is remarkable, as are Why Was I Born and So in Love. Even better, he says, is This Nearly Was Mine. Well, yes, as far as slurring, miss-pitching and plain bad singing is concerned it probably is even better, but then what is one to expect from someone that can't tell the difference between a B flat and a C.

    Lanza's 1949 recording of Celeste Aida was transposed up a tone, he claims- no it's not- it's sung in the original key and ends with a high B flat.
    And "Mario sustained a top C at the end of La donna e mobile...) it's a top B!
    About Lanza's rendition of Niun mi tema from Otello, he says " Sadly, though, the voice is a near Baritone." And so it should be-Otello is not Nemorino.
    And to top it all he makes the absurd statement that only a musical incompetent can make. Technically Lanza was far superior to Caruso, he states. Simply ridiculous! Lanza had an excellent technique, but Caruso's was certainly far from an inferior one

    But aside from Bret's musical incompetence the book is a total farce. Pure fabrication! He refers to Dr. Frank Silvestri's limited English. Silvestri was born in America and spoke perfect English. He claims that Lanza was forced to stay in Naples as no hotel would put up with him in Capri. Lanza and family stayed at the Hotel Quisisana in Capri while filming For the First Time there in October 1958. He further states that Kathryn Grayson did not attend the Los Angeles funeral- wrong again-she did.

    I could go on indefinitely, but what's the point? Not even someone with half a brain is likely to take this concoction of unadulterated rubbish seriously.

    1.0 out of 5 stars

    Bottom of the Heap, December 2, 2009
    By John A. Durso (REAL NAME)

    This review is from: Mario Lanza (Hardcover)
    David Bret's "Sublime Serenade" to me is at the bottom of the heap of the biographies ever written about the great tenor Mario Lanza. That honor had previously been reserved for the infamous Matt Bernard paperback written in the 1970s, but bad as that effort was it at least was an original work. Bret has trawled through all the Lanza books written to date and compiled his own sleazy take on the life of this great but troubled artist. Even with far superior books to "borrow" from, Bret gets his facts and information wrong. The book is filled with errors and Bret's "new" information ranges from the laughable to the offensive.
    A case in point is a disgusting and totally unbelievable account of Lanza deliberately and loudly breaking wind in a Hollywood restaurant (the use of a cigarette lighter is also involved) for which he allegedly received "a standing ovation" from the charmed clientele. The source of this vulgar story is one "Roger Normand" whom Mr. Bret claims to be his godfather and who, according to Bret, hung out with "Mario and the gang" in Hollywood and in Europe. Search every book or article written about Mario Lanza both during and after his lifetime and the mysterious Mr. Normand doesn't appear once in any of them.
    All of the Bret trademarks are present in this effort. For starters, there's a complete lack of reference footnotes, which Bret conveniently claims readers find "boring". That may be true of his projected tabloid audience, but it does nothing to support any of the outrageous statements he makes throughout the book. If Mr. Bret had included the valuable reference footnotes if would have added many extra pages.
    The Mario Lanza depicted in these pages is a crude, vulgar, abusive alcoholic and his wife Betty little more than a pill popping drunk. Bret's noted fondness for gay sub-themes is played down a bit here, but he still can't resist a wink-wink reference to a couple of Lanza's male associates having a "crush" on the singer. And what did poor Zsa Zsa Gabor ever do to Mr. Bret for him to cruelly describe her as a "43-year-old fag hag par excellence"? Bret also devotes an entire epilogue to the tired old "Did the Mafia kill Mario?' nonsense presumably to add a little spice to the story.
    Mr. Bret has written books on Dietrich, Piaf and Chevalier, and he's a big supporter of the late British singer Dorothy Squires, so naturally all four make appearances here. Needless to say, none of the previous Lanza bios mention them at all. If Mr. Bret tackles the Michael Jackson story next, don't be surprised if those old troupers and "Roger Normand" turn up there as well.
    My father, Eddie Durso, was one of Mario's closest boyhood friends and I'm thankful he doesn't get a mention in this book. A personal case in point, on page 10 of 'Sublime Serenade' Mr. Bret states that one Joe Siciliano told another Lanza biographer Derek Mannering that Mario and Joe met the Swedish tenor Jussi Bjorling at the Met in December 1940. That meeting is correct but the person who gave Derek his personal account of that meeting was one Phil Sciscione, another boyhood friend of Mario's and my father's. I was the one who introduced Phil to Mr. Mannering while he was researching his biography 'Singing to the Gods' (released in July 2005). Mr. Bret also incorrectly stated that Bjorling did not sing 'Trovatore' at the Met on December 12, 1940 as Phil Sciscione (not Joe) stated. Why would Mr. Bret switch Joe with Phil if it was clear in the Mannering biography? I concede that minor mistakes are made in books, but if Mr. Bret makes a point of using and then correcting a previous biography, at least get it right. Mr. Scisione's family would not be pleased to know Mr. Bret deprived and removed Phil from his involvement in the story.
    "Sublime Serenade" draws to a grim close with Mr. Bret stating that Lanza's son Marc was "believed to be H.I.V. infected" when he died. Oh really: "believed to be" by whom, Mr. Bret? The author doesn't say (the lack of those pesky footnotes again) and of course the suggestion is not only scurrilous but completely false. There are many fine biographies of Mario Lanza currently available, all them properly researched and all of them properly annotated. This is not one of them.

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