The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (204): Sinatra sings Mozart duet

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (204): Sinatra sings Mozart duet


norman lebrecht

October 10, 2020

With Kathryn Grayson in the 1947 film ‘It Happened in Brooklyn’.

Not perfect, but not bad at all.



  • Phillip Ayling says:

    Though noticeable lip-synching always bothers me, I not only appreciate what Frank Sinatra is doing, but really give kudos to Kathryn Grayson. I can’t imagine Sinatra was thrilled when it was first suggested: “How about you and Kathryn singing some Mozart Opera for your next film?”

    Even though Kathryn had extensive training as a coloratura soprano, a strong voice and live opera performance experience, she is not trying to overwhelm Sinatra and is balancing wonderfully.
    It creates a whole lightness that allows Sinatra to pull this off and finds both of them doing a great job of serving the film’s dramatic and comedic components. In that sense, this clip is a wonderful example of a fine duet. A partnership, without any element of: ‘My turn, look at me, I’m the best of the two of us’.

    Johnny Green, Alex Stordahl and André Previn, among others, were involved in making the music for this film and may have also played a role in producing the vocals. This is no doubt lost to history, but kudos to all. Given the time period, Peter Lawford is likely finger-synching (if there is such a term), to Previn’s piano too.

  • fflambeau says:

    Well, Sinatra was Italian and one of the greatest pop singers of his time (he couldn’t read music but Peter Lawford obviously knows nothing about conducting too).

  • dear Evelina Colorni is turning over in here grave

  • mary says:

    what kinda accent is dat for a paisan? I mean his Italian, it’s pretty ridiculous for an Italian-American.

    • Paganono says:

      It’s a Joisey accent. He’s from New Joisey.

    • F. P. Walter says:

      You really think Sinatra’s accent is inferior to the accents of such Giovannis as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Sherrill Milnes, Ingvar Wixell, and Thomas Allen? You must have the sharpest ear in the Milky way galaxy!

  • Greg Bottini says:

    I love ya, Frankie!

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Well that’s cheered me up here in locked down Wales. I’m a huge fan of Sinatra but had never heard that before. Many thanks, Norman.

  • Jack Firestone says:

    Engaging and delightful. They were both young, handsome, and this was a treat to see and hear.

  • Simon Hall says:

    Kathryn Grayson had one of the most shrill ear piercing soprano voices ever. In the Mario Lanza movies she was in I had to turn the volume right down to avoid ear ache.

  • E says:

    Really sweet. Sounds from my childhood. Thanks for posting this.

  • Larry says:

    Not bad at all, indeed. Hart to believe there was once a time when Hollywood wouldn’t hesitate to include a full-length opera duet, in the original Italian, in a mainstream motion picture.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Sinatra, in some article or interview that I cannot seem to find online, once described his voice (with no intent by him to mean it was operatic in size or technique) as within a “bel canto” tradition, and you might grant him the point on the basis of this duet. But remember that Chaliapin said that his problem, as a singing actor, with true “bel canto” was that “I love” and “I hate” were sung in the same dulcet tones. What made Sinatra interesting as a pop singer, and why his time as a “big band singer” was relatively brief, is that he always sounded like he had paid close attention to the lyrics and was adjusting his approach accordingly — he was a singing actor. In that sense I’d argue that Ray Eberle of the Glenn Miller Orchestra was more “bel canto,” and it was just nice singing and not much more.

    I suppose you could say that what made Sinatra new and different is also what made Maria Callas new and interesting in the (true) bel canto repertoire and one can wonder what Chaliapin would have said of her.

    That somehow reminds me of what the once-popular singer Julius La Rosa, who was from time to time accused of copying Sinatra’s style, said when confronted with that accusation. La Rosa’s response, and this is paraphrased, not an actual quote, was along the lines of “so what do I have to do to avoid sounding like Frank Sinatra – phrase AGAINST the meaning of the lyrics?” Good point.

  • JOE HARKINS says:

    do you really think Mozart would not have loved to see this?

  • M McAlpine says:

    Of course, reading Sinatra’s biography, his life style would have made even Don Giovanni blush.

  • Jai Marland says:

    MARVELOUS! I have seen/remember this film. Grayson’s voice always gave me goosebumps, Astounding mastery. Frank, I love All the abilities you had and displayed to perfection, you were way more than a simple “Triple
    Threat” ♥️

  • papageno says:

    An interesting curiosity item. Sinatra’s Italian is not very good, and I never cared for Grayson’s tremulous voice.