I am not an opera expert. I’m not even an opera fan. I know one opera – Madame Butterfly. My older sister brought home the album, which included the libretto (thank heaven), so I was able to follow the story. Perfect material for a teenage girl – ah, sweet love and then the pain and anguish. Laughing. But I loved Madame Butterfly.

My mother loved Mario Lanza. We were brought up with Mom’s love of Mario. Then we girls (three of us) were in love with him, too. In my (not so) humble opinion, his was the finest tenor voice of the last century – which includes Caruso. I like Placido Domingo and didn’t much care for Pavarotti.

Today – I think ‘especially’ – today, I listen to the finest work Mario ever did. There are only three pieces; I like to keep things simple. Given that any day the order may change, this is the line up:

  1. The Lord’s Prayer – never fails to bring tears to my eyes. At the end of the clip, notice the actress Spring Byington, bow her head; I don’t think that was acting. I do much the same myself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a3ZzPDvWDE
  2. The Ave Maria – makes my chest tight and my chin quiver. You’re allowed to laugh when I tell you I memorized the Latin so I could sing along with him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zl3fGCSlYa0
  3. I’ll Never Walk Alone – well, by this time, I’m a blubbering mess and I don’t care. “And He’ll hear the words that I say … ” I know He does. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OQ2Cc6yFz4

I like to think that when we sing at home or in church, to God’s ear, we all sound like Mario. I like that thought.

This music – these words, that voice – never cease to lift me up; to take us to another place.