Mark Vincent in concert
A tribute to Mario Lanza Australian tour
Lunchbox Theatrical Productions
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Remaining Australian tour dates: Sydney - Thursday 9 November at 8 pm. State Theatre. Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au Melbourne - Sunday 12 November at 5 pm. Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall. Bookings: artscentremelbourne.com.au
Mark Vincent is 23 years old. He won Australia’s Got Talent when he was 15 and by the time he was 20 has sold more than half a million song units. Now he is touring the capital cities with his show A Tribute to Mario Lanza. He is indeed a charismatic singing star.
This is billed as a tribute show but it is no ordinary tribute show, mainly because of Vincent’s extraordinary talent.
For close to two hours he kept his audience in the practically full Concert Hall applauding and cheering as he sang his way through the dozen songs on his album plus a few extras and encores. He was given four standing ovations.
His audience was almost all elderly people who were obviously Lanza fans in their youth, but to my mind it is a show that could cover all ages, opera lovers in particular, even the most snobbish opera fan couldn’t knock his voice. He gives a performance that deserves to be seen and heard as he channels the late singing star.
Mario Lanza was an American movie actor with an incredible pure tenor voice. His recordings of romantic pop songs and classical arias were top sellers in his time when he was compared with Enrico Caruso, who he played in the movie of the same name.
Lanza died in 1958. He was 38 years old and it was just 10 years after he made his Hollywood debut . He was called the greatest tenor of all time too, and there were arguments. People said he had a great voice but never was an opera singer – but he actually performed Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly just before he signed a seven year contract with MGM.
Whatever the discussion, he had a unique voice and gave pleasure to millions, including me as a youngster, as he took classical arias to the top of the pop charts.
Now 60 years after his death is the first tribute show. Why now? Because there a singer with enough talent and vocal strength to cover the range of Lanza’s material.
Mark Vincent has a voice of sheer purity and tone. He also knows how to use a microphone to project his crystal clear high notes – but he does use the old trick of dumping the mic to show he can reach the back of the hall without it.
The show opened with a look at the making of the album plus a video of the virtual duet with Lanza with Because You’re Mine. It was good to see and hear the similarity of vocal tones.
Then, backed by a 20-piece orchestra conducted Guy Noble Mark, he swung into live action with a range of songs including Arriverderci Roma, Be Mine Tonight, The Loveliest Night of the Year, Be My Love, Without a Song, I’ll walk with God, romantic Italian songs – Come Prima, O Sole Mio and the great arias, La Donna e Mobile and E Lucevan Le Stelle!
We had to wait until the final encore for Nessun Dorma.
However it was not all Mark Vincent; soprano Jennifer Little from New Zealand had a couple of spots. In act one she sang I Could Have Danced All Night, from My Fair Lady and Art Is Calling for Me (the prima donna song) from the musical The Enchantress. A microphone problem spoiled this a little but she came into her own in act two with a beautiful rendition of O mio babbino caro from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. And then she was joined by Vincent and they had a lot of fun as they sang the Drinking Song from La Traviata.
I have seen Mark Vincent twice before, in Dirty Dancing when I said: “And what a great voice has Mark Vincent as Johnny’s offsider Billy Costecki. It was haunting duet he did with Maddie Peat as Penny. Now there was one of my favourites of the night.”
The second time was as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, in My Fair Lady. Then I said I thought his voice too powerful for the wimpy man.
To see him in his element was an enriching experience.