The Institute that celebrates the renown South Philly tenor will host a drop-in opening on November 7 at its new Passyunk Square home.
Since its 2018 move from 712 Montrose St. to 1214 Reed St., the Mario Lanza Institute has experienced “a two-year saga,” according to Bill Ronayne, the Institute’s president/treasurer/publicity director. This Saturday, November 7, from noon until 3 p.m., the Institute will hold an opening of their new space that preserves the legacy of its South Philly-born namesake. This is only the second opportunity since the move for people to view memorabilia related to the tenor’s career.
“It’s taken a bunch to get us to this point,” Ronayne said of the last two years. During this time he guided fundraising efforts to keep the space afloat and managed structural repairs to the new digs. “Now that we’re here, I’m looking forward to giving people this opportunity because we’ve had a rough run lately, and we always need something fun to do.”
The “rough run” that the New York resident is referring to includes the nation’s battle with coronavirus. Pandemic restrictions prevented the Institute from opening to the fans and admirers of the man born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza until October 7. On that day, which marked the 61st anniversary of Lanza’s death, Ronayne was again able to tout the talented singer’s artistic gifts and hopes that this Saturday’s event will dovetail nicely with by-appointment-only visits to further the location’s mission.
“The museum needs to start generating revenue, so I’m seeing what I’ll be able to do to make that happen,” the overseer said. He hopes to offer lectures and show movies featuring Lanza. “Again, this is in the name of giving people a chance to enjoy themselves and also to give them an appreciation of a celebrated Italian-American.”
Once they have paid the $10 admission, patrons, who must don masks and observe social distancing protocols, can do what Ronayne has intended for them to do since the institute’s relocation to Passyunk Square, namely, to celebrate the native son who became a legend over his relatively short life. He and his fellow devotees will continue to sing his praises next year through their April-slated ball and the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his birth.
“If you come on Saturday, I think you’ll enjoy seeing the items that we have that relate to his life,” Ronayne said of Lanza. “For someone who didn’t live long, he touched many lives and the institute is keen on keeping that momentum going.”
Visitors who aren’t able to make the November 7 event can still visit the Institute by appointment. There is a $15 admission fee. All visitors will be required to wear a mask and observe social distancing regulations.
For more information and to make a reservation, call 215-238-9691 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.