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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista :  Passyunk Square :  South Broad Street 

Mario Lanza Institute & Museum Fundraiser to Benefit New Home in Passyunk Square

The Institute lost their lease in Bella Vista but hope to “Keep The Dream Alive” and remain in South Philly

You may have heard that the Mario Lanza Institute and Museum lost their lease at their current home, 712 Montrose Street. We’ve just learned the Institute plans to relocate to a new space in Passyunk Square. On Tuesday, June 26th, you can help the Institute with their relocation expenses by making a purchase at Pizzeria Pesto, 1925 S. Broad St. On that day, 10% of all proceeds (dine-in, take-out & delivery) will benefit the Institute’s Capital Campaign.

1206 Reed Street, future home of the Mario Lanza Institute & Museum. Google Maps

The Institute’s current leased space, in a former convent adjacent to St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi Church, is being sold to a developer. They hope to relocate to space at 1206 Reed Street, opposite Columbus Square. The building, owned by Pete Bilotti of Alexstone, a granite and marble company, requires some renovations to accommodate the Institute’s offices and museum. The museum’s collection consists of movie posters, lobby cards, photos, costumes, and a terra cotta bust of Lanza.

Mario Lanza. Photo courtesy Mario Lanza Institute.

Mario Lanza was a South Philly success story. Born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza on January 31, 1921, he lived at 636 Christian Street and 2040 Mercy Street. Lanza, who took his grandmother’s name as he rose to fame, began his professional singing career at age 16. After a 1947 concert at the Hollywood Bowl, he was signed to act for MGM. This catapulted him to fame as a film star. At the time of his death in 1959 he was called “the most famous tenor in the world”.
Lanza dreamed of establishing a scholarship program to help young vocal students. The non-profit Mario Lanza Institute, incorporated in 1962, helped fulfill this dream. The Institute has awarded more than 200 scholarships to talented, young singers aspiring to achieve professional vocal careers. The scholarships have benefited students attending music programs across the country, including Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts and Curtis Institute, and Juilliard in New York City.

The Pizzeria Pesto/Alexstone fundraiser will help the Institute continue their philanthropic work and provide a fourth South Philly-based site for their office and museum.

The museum was officially established in 1975 at Nick Petrella’s Record Shop, 1414 Snyder Ave., when a modest Lanza display located at the back of the shop was expanded. The museum hoped, in part, to capture the large crowds expected for the Bicentennial. In 1986 Petrella closed his record shop and the museum moved to the third floor of Settlement Music School, 416 Queen Street. Lanza had attended Settlement as a child. For many years the Institute’s scholarships exclusively benefitted students at the school. In 2002 the Museum dedicated their soon-to-be-former space at 712 Montrose.

For more information, visit the Institute’s website, or contact them at mariolanzainstitute@verizon.net or 215-238-9691. You can also donate via Facebook here. The Mario Lanza Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All contributions are deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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