For the First Time
Directed byRudolph Maté
Written byAndrew Solt
Produced by
  • Paul Baron
  • Alexander Grüter
  • Max Koslowski
  • Alfredo Panone
  • Georg von Block
CinematographyAldo Tonti
Edited byGene Ruggiero
Music byGeorge Stoll
  • Corona Filmproduktion
  • Orion Films
  • Titanus
Distributed by
Release date
26 August 1959
Running time
92 minutes
  • Italy
  • United States
  • West Germany
Box office$1,685,000[1]

For the First Time (German title: Serenade of a Great Love) is a 1959 musical film directed by Rudolph Maté and starring Mario Lanza, Johanna von Koczian, Kurt Kasznar, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. It was tenor star Mario Lanza's final film, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer six weeks before his death. The film tells the sentimental story of an operatic tenor (Tony Costa) who finds love for the first time with a young German woman (played by Johanna von Koczian), who happens to be deaf.

It was shot at the Spandau Studios in Berlin and on location in 1958 in Capri, Salzburg, Berlin and at the Rome Opera House. The film's sets were designed by the art directors Hans Jürgen Kiebach, Fritz Maurischat and Heinrich Weidemann.


Critics singled out Lanza's singing of "Vesti la Giubba" from Pagliacci and the Death Scene from Otello for special praise, with Howard Thompson of The New York Times calling it the tenor's "most disarming vehicle in years."[citation needed]



Music plays a major role in the film. The following compositions can be heard:

In addition to the main actor, soloists, the choir and orchestra of the Roman Opera and the Vatican boys' choir sing and play. George E. Stoll, who also contributed two of his own songs, was responsible for directing the music.

Box office

According to MGM records the film earned $710,000 in the US and Canada and $975,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $1,685,000.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.

Cesari, Armando. Mario Lanza: An American Tragedy (Fort Worth: Baskerville, 2004).