Archive for May, 2011

1931, May 31 – BIRTH OF JUAN CARLOS COPES

Dancer (Gemini) – during the dark period of military repression in the 1950s tango, which was associated with the overthrown Peronist regime, was repressed…tango artists were blackballed, jailed, many had to go into exile; lunfardo was banned, tango lyrics censured…Juan Carlos Copes however, was an untouchable…when he was performing, on one side of the theater were the military, on the other the mafia and in the middle the common people…Juan Carlos Copes was an institution with world-wide connections…his appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was a resounding success; he was called back several times…he was the first to choreograph tango argentino on broadway…at the “cathedral of tango”, Cano 14, Juan Carlos Copes first began to put his choreographic ideas together, the knife fight between the neighborhood toughs, dancing on tables, tango among poor immigrants…these would become standard and be copied all over the world…Robert Duvall described him as “a rolls royce without a spedometer”

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He choreographed the renown “Maria De Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazzolla…he starred in Carlos Saura’s academy award nominated “Tango” where he danced with his daughter Johanna…Juan Carlos Copes grew up listening to tango; his grandfather was the first professional tango flutist in history…he was planning a career as an electronic engineer when one day he shyly walked in to the milonga Parque Norte in his Villa Puerreydon neighborhood… it changed his life, he knew instantly that this is what he wanted to devote his life to against the vehement objections of his father…one fateful day, he and Nata, entered a dance contest but the judges chose their favorites as the winners; the crowd went wild with rage, the judges were forced to change their minds and award Juan and Nata first prize…later he would unfold his career with her sister Maria Nieves…sixty years later after a career of breathcatching breadth, he is still going strong.

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1902, May 28 – BIRTH OF LUIS CESAR AMADORI

Poet, Film Director ( Gemini) – he began to feel the winds of change as soon as the military dictatorship took over; oddly the telephone stopped ringing and his calls went unanswered…one day a military unit came and arrested him…he was suspected of being  a collaborator with the Juan Peron regime…he was eventually released but he got the message and he exiled himself to Spain…Luis Cesar Amador was one of the most prolific film directors in Argentine history…his made his first film “Puerto Nuevo” in 1936 with Sofia Bozan and Charlo; seventy-seven others were to follow over a twenty year career….his greatest film was “Dios Se Lo Paque” with Zully Moreno and Arturo De Cordoba; it was Argentina’s entry into the Oscar awards in 1949

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Luis Cesar Amadori was born in the city of Pescara, Italy; he arrived with his family in Buenos Aires when he was five years old…he enter the university in Cordoba but he was restless and he soon dropped out to devote himself to writing and journalism…he began writing for the evening newspaper “Ultima Ora” and later the renown magazine “Caras Y Caretas”…it was while reporting on theater activities and it is there that he discovered his love of script writing; he authored a number of popular plays…he would also pen the lyrics of many tangos working with Enrique Santos Discepolo on a number of hits…he also worked with Francisco Canaro, Alfredo Malerba and Luis Rubenstein to name just a few; Carlos Gardel would record five of his tangos…in 1955 he shot his last two films “El Barro Humano” in which he directed his wife, the popular actress Zully Moreno and “El Amore Nunca Muere” a three episode film which cast the most renown actors of the time…he was the owner of the celebrated Teatro Maipo which together with the Teatro Nacional were the most prestigious performance halls in Argentina

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1930, May 27 – GARDEL RECORDS “KNOCK OUT DE AMOR”

In witty, tongue in cheek lyrics, the courtship between a man and a woman becomes a boxing match…man and woman are in the ring and punches, withdrawals and defenses are  described and finally she let’s down her defense, her mouth is unguarded, whereupon he says “and like a quick punch I hit your mouth with a kiss and baby, by a knock out I won”…the lyrics were written by poet and playwrite Ivan Diez who like the legendary Astor Piazzolla was born in Mar de Plata…he was a writer of popular short novels like “La Honra De Aquella Mujer” (1921) and books of poems like “Granos De Arena” in 1924 and later another book of verses in lunfardo “Sangre De Suburbio”…some of his other tangos include the hit “Almagro” to the music of Vicente San Lorenzo, “Vesubiio” by Enrique Delfino and “Tu Panuelo” by Antonio Polito

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The music to “Knock Out De Amor” was by Vicente San Lorenzo who was born in Naples Italy and emigrated to Argentina as a young boy…from early on he demonstrated precocious musical ability; his father was his first piano teacher…he began playing as a young boy for spare change in the bars and cafes of his neighborhood Almagro; later he was popular at the celebrated Club San Lorenzo…his first tango was “Te Di Chaqui”; later his “Almagro”  was a big hit which, one day, Carlos Gardel heard on the radio and immediately decided to record it…Carlos Gardel’s repertoire was inspired by the everyday life of his fellow portenos and fellow musicians…his “Mi Noche Triste” by Pascual Contursi, was his first tango and turned him from a regional folk singer into an international tango star…he personally composed “Por Una Cabeza” which is one of the most popular tangos in the world; it was featured in the film “Scent of a Woman” and “Shindler’s List”

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1924, May 26 – JUAN CARLOS CATAN RECORDS FOR 1ST TIME

Juan Carlos was a young, promising student at the naval academy and his parents were very proud but in his heart he heard music and so in 1913 at the age of eighteen, he did a crazy thing, he left the academy and with his friend Luis Nunziata he went to Asuncion Paraguay to sing; they successfully debuted at the Cinema Career…it was the start of a long and successful career…two years later at the Hotel France in Buenos Aires he met Carlos Gardel for the first time; they would perform together to great acclaim later in Paris…in 1932 with the Julio De Caro Orchestra he would delight audiences in France and Italy with his singing…he premiered the first tango written by Enrique Santos Discepolo “Bizcochito” in 1924  in the play “La Porota”…his first recording was on May 26, 1924 with “Perjura” and “Tengo Celos” backed by the Agusto Berto Orchestra…he wrote the lyrics for some tangos which became famous in their instrumental versions like “El Monito”, “Buen Amigo”, “El Choclo”…his “Aquaforte”, which was a hit for Carlos Gardel and Agustin Magaldi, continues to be popular

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Juan Carlos Batan was born in Bahia Blanca, the city of Carlos Di Sarli…from an early age he demonstrated precocious musical ability but his father was adamant that he pursue a serious career…he became a “cantor nacional”, a national singer, which meant that he sang a variety of folk music from the plains of the province of Buenos Aires, cifras, estilos, zambas and tango…he recorded fifteen numbers in that genre…others who started as “Cantor Nacional” were Hugo De Carril, Ignacio Corsini, Charlo, Alberto Gomez, Carlos Gardel…eventually tango overtook them in popularity…he traveled to Europe and Egypt with the Julio De Caro and Eduardo Bianco Orchestras and was a regular on radio stations Radio Belgrano and Radio El Mundo…one year before he passed away, at the age of seventy seven, he wrote his celebrated autobiography, “El Tango Que Yo Vivi, 60 Anos De Tango”

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1900, May 25 – BIRTH OF ANGEL D’AGOSTINO

Leader, Pianist (Gemini) – “Yes I promise” said Enrique Cadicamo solemnly to Angel D’agostino; the two had made a pact to never betray their friendship by marrying…nevertheless, Cadicamo would marry at the age of fifty to a twenty-two year old girl and Angel D’agostino would never speak to him again…Angel D’agostino would live to the age of ninety-one, still a bachelor surrounded by friends and the memories of many women; his friend Cadicamo would also live a long life, passing away at the age of ninety nine…Angel D’agostino would seal his immortality during the six years he formed a team with singer Angel Vargas; “los dos angelos” (the two angels they were called)… they would record ninety-three tangos together including, “A Pan Y Agua“, “Mano Blanca” , “Adios Arrabal”…Angel D’agostino was one of the few musicians who was a dancer and he was to say, “I love dancing and am a miloguerno, I was a good dancer and I played to accompany the best ones”

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Angel D’agostino was born in the neighborhood of Palermo, Buenos Aires to an Italian immigrant family of musicians…he remembered that as a boy, the piano in his house never stopped playing…his father was his first teacher and later he entered the conservatory…as a child he began to play in public with another boy who would one day be a legend of tango, Juan D’arienzo…he quit school early to devote himself to his career; at the age of twenty he organized his first orchestra to play tango and jazz at the famous Palais de Glace…his orchestra gave young Anibal Troilo and Alberto Echague and Ismael Spitalnik their first professional breaks…a skilled gambler, he played poker at the Club de Progresso where high society people frequented …in 1932 he met Angel Vargas but is wasn’t until eight years later that they formed their legendary team which debuted on Radio El Mundo; one of their ardent fans was Eva Peron.

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1877, May 24 – BIRTH OF ANGEL MENTASTI

Film Producer (Gemini) – Angel Mentasti’s dynamism, courage and business acumen would be a major reason for the eventual diffusion of tango…his film “Tango” which premiered in 1933 was not only successful but would create the model for popular films which were seen all over the world…film making from the beginning was a roll of the dice; expensive to produced and dependent on the tastes of a fickle public…for his first film venture, he came up with an innovative idea; a three film project which would pool costs, minimize risks, attract investors, and appeal to distributors…part of the strategy was to market the first film only at the point of production of the second and create a trilogy expectation…Angel Mentasti was born in Varese, Italy to poor farmer parents…newly married and with limited possibilities he embarked on the courageous course of moving to Argentina…he worked in many odd jobs but with a natural entrepreneurial bent of mind…

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While working at Cosmos Films as distribution manager, he met Luis Moglia Barth who was a translator of sub titles and editor as well as a publicity agent…when Mentasti hit upon the idea of a new film production company he invited  Luis Moglia Barth to join him…he convinced the most popular entertainers of his day to appear including Libertad Lamarque, Osvaldo Fresedo, Juan D’arienzo, Pedro Maffia, Juan De Dios Filiberto….the second film “Dancing” in which Tito Luisardo debuted was a commercial failure and his investors disappeared…to complete the third film “Riachuelo”, Mentasti had to scramble and he had to liquidate his own assets…”Riachuelo” was a great success; it cost 80,000 pesos to produce and in the first year alone grossed one million pesos…at the height of his success, Angel Mentasti suddenly contracted diphtheria with which he courageously battled for many months but it was a fight that he eventually lost and he passed away at the age of sixty…he was remembered by colleagues and friends as an energetic, dynamic and generous man

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1938, May 23 – ADA FALCON RECORDS “CUANDO EL CORAZON”

Studies by social scientists have confirmed that in communities which have more love among its members people have less heart disease and live longer…the healing power of love to heal loss, is precisely what this tango speaks about…“love is the magical star that descends from heaven that makes healing a reality”, it says…sadly, this was not to be the destiny of  its singer, the legendary Ada Falcon…her true love was orchestra leader Francisco Canaro but he was already married and he finally reneged on his promise to divorce his wife when he realized how much money he would lose…Canaro was the wealthiest man in tango and the epithet “he was more money than Canaro” was in common usage…Canaro was the son of poor immigrants from Rovigo Italy and early in life he quit school to work…his first violin he constructed himself from an old oil can which he used to play on the sidewalks of Buenos Aires for spare change; it was the beginning of an incredible career….

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No one is sure how many recordings he made but the estimates range from 3500 – 7000…Ada Falcon began singing at the age of five as “La Joyita Argentina” (The Argentinean Jewel)…she would become immensely rich and famous…it is said that she was conceited and haughty, accused of  acting like “an American Diva”…in 1930 she began singing with the Francisco Canaro Orchestra and began a long love affair with Canaro…twelve years later, disillusioned and depressed, at the height of her fame and fortune, she suddenly withdrew from public life and eventually entered a convent for tertiary nuns where she lived in poverty by her own choice…she never actually said why, but the speculation was that it was from a broken heart…she lived until the age of ninety-six

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las_obras/letra.aspx?idletra=2248 to hear Ada Falcon sing “Cuando El Corazon” with the Francisco Canaro Orchestra…the lyrics are by Carmelo Santiago

1935, May 22 – PREMIER OF “MONTE CRIOLLO”

Lucy is a woman with a checkered past…using guile and seduction she convinces two men Arguello and Carlos to install an illegal game on the second floor of a dance hall which operates legally…Arguello’s attraction to Lucy eventually becomes an obsession but she rejects him; she is interested instead, in his partner Carlos who is a singer and a latin lover…in desperation, Arguello cheats Carlos in a card game of “Monte”  and Carlos is ruined…in the knife fight which ensues, Carlos kills Arguello…”Monte” is the name of a card game which originated in Spain which was popular in Argentina and which, interestingly, was very popular in the American far west…directed  by Arturo S. Mom, it starred Azucena Maizani and  Agustin Magaldi…Azucena Maizani sings the tango “Monte Criollo” which was composed for the film by Francisco Pracanico with lyrics by the legendary Homero Manzi; they also composed the tango “Muchacho de Cafetin”…

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Pracanico had to quit school when he was a child to work as a shoe shine boy…in between customers to pass the time away he would play his harmonica…eventually his customers gave him a guitar and then a piano and in time would become one of tango’s renown figures…it was the first film for Francisco Petrone was who would go on to have a grand career as an actor..in 1942 he would star in the classic film “La Guerra Gaucha” directed by Lucas Demare with music by Lucio Demare…in the 1950s, like Osvaldo Pugliese, he was blackballed for his membership in the communist party and like Libertad Lamarque, for a time, he had to move to Mexico to find work…he was to die at the age of 65 surrounded by his beloved wife and seven children…”Monte Criollo”argen was produced by the Argentina Sono Films studio which was founded by Angel Mentasti, the son of poor farmers In Varese, Italy before he emigrated arrived to Buenos Aires…he worked at many odd jobs before eventually founding Argentina Sono Films….he produced Luis Moglia Barth’s “Tango” in 1933, the first sound film in Argentina

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1985, May 21 – Abel Cordaba Records “PA LO QUE TE VA A DURAR”

The lyrics of “Pa Lo Che Te Va A Durar” warn a young man that his abandonment in partying, drinking and horse racing, will one day result in tragedy in his life…the song says, “you’ll see one day where you will end up“…these are recurrent themes in tango…Rosendo Mendizabal, who wrote what is considered the first published tango, “El Enterriano” squandered a huge inheritance and died penniless and alone at the age of forty five…horse racing is of course the theme of Carlos Gardel’s greatest composition “Por Una Cabeza”; Gardel was a big fan of horse racing and incurred huge gambling debts notwithstanding the incredible sums of money he earned…”Pa Lo Che Te Va A Durar” was composed by the renown guitarist Guillermo Barbieri who perished in the airplane crash which killed Carlos Gardel…it was found among the charred remains in a smoking piece of luggage and published posthumously…Abel Cordoba had a rough start in his career; he struggled for many years before Osvaldo Pugliese hired him out of over 300 contestants…

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He was born in the neighborhood of Caballito, Buenos Aires where his father was lover of Gardel and an avid fan of the Glostora Tango Club which the family assiduously listened to every night…one evening he went to hear the Alfredo De Angelis orchestra and his renown singer Carlos Dante encouraged the sixteen year old Abel to follow his heart…he began to study voice and his teacher was so impressed with his talent that he tried to push him into opera but Abel’s heart was set on tango….brimming with dreams and hope, Abel began to enter singing contests but had little success; greatly discouraged, he survived by eaking out a living singing in bars and cafes…one evening when he was singing at the Confiteria Oriental, when Pugliese’s agent “El Negro Mela” heard him and invited him to an audition…in gratitude, and it must be said, in humility, Abel Cordoba remained with Pugliese for over thirty one years…he would tour the whole world with Pugliese and he was especially popular in Japan…in Finland, a group of musicologists chose his recording of Discepolo’s legendary “Uno” as the best rendition of all time

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2007, May 20 – PREMIERE OF “CARAMEL”

Nisrine is about to get married but there is only one problem, her husband to be, comes from a conservative muslim family and she is no longer a virgin; she is desperate…her friends from the beauty shop where she works accompany her to the gynecologists office for moral support where she will restore her virginity through surgery…this is just one of the intriguing, funny and moving storys of four women who work in a beauty shop in Beirut….all magnificently threaded with an alluring tango “Tango El Caramel” composed by Khaled Mouzanar…”Caramel” was Nadine Labaki’s first full length feature film and it was a phenomenal success with both critics and public all over the world…the title “Caramel” refers to an ancient method of epilation dating back to 1900 BC Egypt, in which a mixture of sugar, lemon juice and is applied to hair to remove it; it is sometimes refered to as Persian waxing…each of the women in the beauty shop is living her own drama; Layale, played Nadine Labaki, is stuck in a dead-end relationship with a married man….

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Rima, the shampoo girl, finds herself mysteriously attracted to a beautiful customer and wonders if she is a lesbian…Jamale, a customer and aspiring actress is worried about getting old…Rose an elderly women with a tailor shop next to the beauty salon, has devoted her life to taking care of mentally ill older sister but now she has unexpectedly found love …the film is unique for not focusing on war-torn Beirut but on how a group of people deal with every day issues even as soldiers are patrolling the streets…..Nadine Labaki not only played the lead role but wrote and directed the film as well; her sister Caroline was the costume designer and her boyfriend Khaled Mouzanar composed the music; he and Nadine married shortly after the film was completed…”Caramel” was made for 1.6 million dollars and grossed over 15 million dollars…one critic wrote, “Nadine Labaki has made a glorious film…it’s funny, warm-hearted and without cliché as it tells us a lot about the tough choices facing women in a society where two kinds of fundamentalist religions contest”

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