CARUSO

MARIO RELICH



My mother was a fan

of Mario Lanza


On a snowbound day,

she took me to the local


cinema to see

The Great Caruso,


an MGM film

spectacularly grand,


the lion roaring

at its start, a movie


colourful and operatic,

the women glamorous.



A love story beat

at its heart, the tenor


a troubled, unhappy man

I couldn’t fathom. It was


no doubt a typical

Hollywood biopic


of the time. I felt

my mother’s warmth


in the dark. I couldn't

have been much more


than seven or eight,

so I was thrilled


to do something

so very grown-up,






















watching with her Lanza

singing passionately


heartfelt arias, like

the one from Tosca,


his voice breaking

into stirring sobs


which I found alarming,

even overwhelming.



At the final scene,

he collapsed on stage,


and shocked silence

gripped everyone.


The cinema curtain,

as if on mournful cue,


shrouded the screen,

announcing THE END.

‘If only I could take you

to La Scala


in Milano, so plush,

so luxurious, yes


you’d like it, I think so,

but there are no opera


houses here,’

sighed my mother.


‘What’s an opera house?,’

I wondered,


having no inkling

that Montreal


was not home to her,

and never would be.




Mario Relich’s book of poems Frisky Ducks was published by Grace Note in 2014. His poems have appeared in Poetry journals, and in the ‘Poem of the Day’ section of The Herald.

He is also a retired academic who was a lecturer on Post-Colonial Literature and Film History at the Open University, both in Scotland and London, for many years.

At present, he writes regularly literary reviews, and an annual Edinburgh International Festival Diary for Scottish Affairs.

He is a member of the board of Scottish PEN


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