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Gott, Karel  

Karel Steinmetz and Geoffrey Chew

(b Plzeň [Pilsen], July 14, 1939; d Prague, Oct 1, 2019). Czech pop singer, actor, and painter. The best-known and most successful Czech pop singer of the 20th and 21st centuries. In his youth Gott aspired to become a painter, and after completing his schooling in Plzeň, he applied to study art in Prague. After failing to be admitted, he trained as an electrician, and during his training devoted himself also to singing. He began by studying as an opera singer (lyric tenor) with Konstantin Karenin, a pupil of Chaliapin, at first at the Prague Conservatoire and later privately. In 1962 he was engaged at the Semafor Theatre in Prague of Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr, where he achieved great success singing the songs of Suchý and Šlitr; in 1963 he won the Zlatý slavík (‘Golden Nightingale’) poll for the first time, with the hit Oči má sněhem zaváté...

Article

Lanza, Mario  

Brad Eden

(b Philadelphia, PA, 31 Jan 1921; d Rome, Italy, 7 Oct 1959). American tenor.

The son of Italian immigrants, Lanza worked in his family’s grocery business and studied singing early on, winning a scholarship to attend Tanglewood after an audition with Koussevitzky. He changed his last name to Lanza during this time, which was close to his mother’s maiden name. During wartime military service, Lanza sang often for military radio programs. Upon his discharge, he quickly became a celebrity, performing at the Hollywood Bowl in 1946 and in the movie That Midnight Kiss (1949) which put him in the national spotlight. He became known as the “new Caruso.” He made six more films, including his most well known, The Great Caruso (1951), which was the top grossing film of that year, and influenced an entire generation of operatic tenors, including Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras...

Article

Leshnikoff, [Asparuh] Ari  

Claire Levy

(b Haskovo, 29 June 1896; d Sofia, 31 July 1978). Bulgarian singer, internationally famous as a schlager performer, nicknamed the ‘Knight of the Upper F’. As a child he was a solo singer in the church choir in the town of Stara Zagora. Later on he went to the military school in Sofia and in 1920 took professional vocal lessons. In 1923 Leshnikoff went to Berlin, where he received a scholarship at the Sternischen Konservatorium. In 1927 he was appointed at the Grosses Schauspielhaus – a review theatre – and in 1928 joined Comedian Harmonists, a newly formed male vocal sextet, to perform the first tenor part. Becoming one of the most popular groups in Europe before World War II, Comedian Harmonists developed a style, based on aspects of German schlager, bel canto opera singing, pleasing tunes influenced by traditional lyrical songs, and Afro-American-derived patterns associated with the blues, gospel, and close harmony vocal techniques. Their records were released by labels including Odeon, Electrola, Columbia, and His Master’s Voice. In ...