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For the First Time (1959)

Unrated | | Musical | 26 August 1959 (USA)
The brilliance of one of the world's most beloved tenors and the exciting world of opera highlight this delightful romantic adventure set in the most beautiful cities of Europe. Tonio Costa... See full summary »


Rudolph Maté


Andrew Solt

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Cast overview:
Mario Lanza ... Tonio Costa
Johanna von Koczian ... Christa
Kurt Kasznar ... Ladislas Tabory
Hans Söhnker ... Prof. Bruckner (as Hans Sonker)
Annie Rosar ... Mathilde Faktotum
Sandro Giglio Sandro Giglio ... Alessandro
Walter Rilla ... Dr. Bessart
Renzo Cesana Renzo Cesana ... Angelo
Peter Capell ... Leopold Hübner
Gisella Mathews Gisella Mathews
Michael Cosmo Michael Cosmo ... Aldo
Carlo Rizzo Carlo Rizzo
John Stein John Stein
Manfred Schaeffer Manfred Schaeffer ... (as Manfred Schaffer)
Zsa Zsa Gabor ... Gloria De Vadnuz


The brilliance of one of the world's most beloved tenors and the exciting world of opera highlight this delightful romantic adventure set in the most beautiful cities of Europe. Tonio Costa (Mario Lanza), the temperamental darling of the opera world, is forever missing performances because of impromptu street concerts and endless parties. But Tonio's carefree ways change when he falls in love with Christa, a beautiful deaf girl. Christa refuses to marry him until she can hear his sublime voice. So they embark upon a whirlwind concert tour of Europe where Christa consults with specialists while Tonio sings his heart out. Their love grows stronger and they realize that as long as they are together they can face whatever the future holds. Lush, exotic locations, fabulous operatic performances and the magic of Mario Lanza give this sparkling love story the look and sound of enchantment. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


His NEW Singing Romance!




Unrated | See all certifications »



Italy | West Germany | USA



Release Date:

26 August 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Sänger von Capri See more »

Filming Locations:

Austria See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Final film of Mario Lanza. See more »


Gloria De Vadnuz: Hello, everybody! Isn't this a lovely party I'm giving? I'm so glad I could come.
See more »


Celeste Aida
from the opera "Aida"
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Sung by Mario Lanza
See more »

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User Reviews

For the last time
1 February 2015 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Mario Lanza sings and stars in his last film, "For the First Time," which has beautiful music sung against some of the most glorious scenery in the world on the Isle of Capri.

Lanza plays opera star Tonio Costa who is seemingly always in trouble -- on the night of a concert, he doesn't show up and is found standing on a taxi singing for the people who couldn't get into the theater. He seems to have developed a bad reputation along the way. So his manager (Kurt Kasznar) sends him away for a vacation and to straighten himself out. He goes to Capri, and while there, he meets a young deaf woman (Johanna von Koczian). They fall in love, but she refuses to marry him until she can hear him.

The story is sappy, but it's just an excuse for the music. Lanza's voice is much darker here, with the middle voice really opened up. As a singer myself, I will say this normally happens about 15 years after it happened to Lanza. With age, the vocal cords thicken. Many singers find new warmth and power in the middle, while the top notes become more difficult. I attribute these changes in Lanza to his drinking and hard lifestyle, which I suspect included smoking.

At any rate, here he sings "Come Prima," "La Donna e mobile," "Vesti la giubba", the final scene of "Othello", the beginning of the Rigoletto quartet, a partial duet from Cosi fan Tutte, the Triumphant March from Aida, and Neopolitan and Bavarian songs. And with all that, I could have used more.

As usual, the repertoire is strange - you don't give Cosi to a spinto tenore, and you don't give that role to one of Costa's supposed stature, nor should he have been singing Othello. Yes, singers can start out their careers with a lyric Mozart role, and as the voice develops, sing spinto roles - not a month later, but years later -- and possibly end their careers with an Othello, which is a dramatic tenor role, but again, not a month later.

Lanza is bloated in many closeups and wears a suit jacket or a robe the entire movie, apparently to cover weight gain which isn't really that evident.

How many young men did Mario Lanza inspire to take up operatic singing? How many people did he introduce to opera? One can only look at him here and say, what a waste. Since he was living in Rome, he was offered operatic stage roles. Imagine if he had lived to do them. One can only wonder why some gifted people are like fireworks, flaring up and then fading.

The young woman in the movie, Johanna von Koczian, is "introduced" here and a superficial knowledge of movies is enough to tell you she didn't make it in Hollywood. However, she had, and is still having, a wonderful, full career in Germany. Her daughter is an actress as well.

Highly recommended if you love opera and especially for Lanza fans.

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