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  • I really liked this Italian language movie, "Mamma", with subtitles, for it seemed to show the famous tenor, Gigli, in a more relaxed, informal atmosphere, more of his real self in his acting you might say.

    He again plays the role of a great singer, Mario Sarni, and is newly married, bringing home his young wife, Donata, to meet his mother. There are differences along the way that inevitably surface, she being a city girl and more at ease with her invited city friends, to the detriment of her new family and surroundings. Included in her circle of friends is the tantalizing Giulio who is smitten with Donata and has hopes or convincing her to take him seriously. All too soon the idea of a possible separation looms so there's lots of conflict to be resolved. Enter "Mamma" who has a way of succeeding in her plans.

    The mother role of Mme. Sarni is finely rendered by Emma Gramatica, a great Italian actress in her day, although I feel there's a tendency to be too high-blown at times and melodramatic, but perhaps that was a quality of the times.

    This is an opportunity to appreciate the artistry of Beniamino Gigli who also sings arias from the operas Othello, and Rigoletto, plus more. "Mamma" is considered as his most well-known film and the title song was so popular that it was sung during the World War 2 by the Italian soldiers and prisoners of war. Very memorable honour indeed!
  • richard-178719 September 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is an albeit at times melodramatic movie, but it is actually very well made, and worth seeing.

    The story is remarkably realistic. Gigli, the greatest Italian lyric tenor of his day, plays exactly what he was: an older, overweight man. He has married a very beautiful and much younger woman and brought her to meet his elderly mother, played by Emma Grammatica, one of the great figures in the Italian legitimate theater for the previous several decades. The wife is pursued by an old flame, who is young and very handsome. She eventually succumbs to his urging to run away with him, as she does not love her husband, whom she evidently married for his money. And she is about to run away, when the elderly mother, discovering what is about to happen, goes to see the lover and pleads with him not to destroy her son's happiness. That scene enters into the melodramatic. The movie then moves to a hasty conclusion.

    Some may like this movie for Gigli's singing. His voice really did not age, and he is very good in the popular Italian songs he sings here. His performance of excerpts from Otello is less convincing; he sings beautifully, but the beauty of the tone is more important than the drama of Verdi's magnificent music.

    For me, the best things in this movie were the acting, by everyone involved, but in particular by the mother and some of the character parts, like the doctor. Gigli acquits himself quite respectably in a dramatic role. Some of the direction is innovative.

    In short, you don't have to like opera to find merit in this movie. It's not a masterpiece, but neither is it a piece of fluff tossed off to feature an acting-challenged singer in a movie. In other words, it's a hell of a lot better than Yes Giorgio.