Archive for the ‘ Debuts ’ Category

1924, December 5 – STAGE PREMIERE OF “EL CIEGO”

In the early part of the century, stage plays were the preferred method of entertainment and it was also the preferred setting to debut a new tango…a successful debut of a new tango in a stage play could mean fame and fortune for its composer…this was exactly the dream of composer Antonio Scatasso when he premiered his tango “El Ciego” in the play “Chi Lo Sa” written by Cesar Bourel which premiered at the Apollo Theater in Buenos Aires…Antonio Scatasso born February 28, 1886 (Pisces) In Naples Italy had very little education and in fact he was a rough, aggressive, uncouth person but he was also a musical prodigy…

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At the age of four his poor family had emigrated to Buenos Aires in the hope of a better life…Antonio learned to play the mandolin, the guitar and the bandoneon with almost no training of any kind; later he would also become a composer of simple and melodic tangos much beloved by the public especially theater audiences…his first professional debut, around 1907, was with the mandolin alongside violinist and future legend, Francisco Canaro…later he performed at the Cafe El Parque but this time on bandoneon which he had mastered…in 1933 he met Ignacio Corsini at the Teatro Smart; a long and productive collaboration was to ensue including memorable performance at the Radio Nacion….he was always close to the theater, toward the end of his life in management…among his numerous compositions were some great hits for some of which he not only composed the music but wrote the lyrics as well

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1926, November 6 – Debut Of Tango “VIEJO CIEGO”

Composed by Sebastian Piana with lyrics by Catulo Castillo, “Viejo Ciego”  was debuted by singer Roberto Fugazot at the Nuevo Teatro, in Buenos Aires while performing in a play called ”Patadas y Serenatas En El Barrio de Las Latas”…Fugazot, born in the Reus Del Norte neighborhood of Montevideo, Uruguay, was already an excellent guitarist, singer and actor as a teenager….in his long career he would be successful as a scriptwriter and composer as well…barely in his 20s, he formed a very successful duo with singer Agustin Irusta whom he met by chance in a restaurant…later the two would form a trio with Lucio Demare, known as “Trio Argentino” which, in traditional gaucho garb, would have great success at the legendary Maipu Cabaret, in Madrid Spain…later in his life he gave up singing to devote himself to acting to the delight of his numerous fans.

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Sebastian Piana, born in the Almagro neighborhood of Buenos Aires, was in the eyes of discriminating cognoscenti, the composer of the most beautiful tangos in history…he was the son of an immigrant from Piemonte Italy who was a barber by day and musician by night….along with Adolfo Pugliese, father of future legend Osvaldo Pugliese, he would play in impromptu tango groups in the cafes around Buenos Aires to which he would take the young and impressionable Sebastian …at the age of 14 Sebastian was playing piano at silent movie houses…he composed his first tango “Sabor Popular” at the age of 17…his first major break occurred in 1922 when Carlos Gardel recorded his tango “Sobre El Pucho”…many more were to follow…he was a childhood friend of the legendary lyricist  Homero Manzi with who he would later create some of the most beautiful tangos in history

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1889, October 5 – “LE MOULIN ROUGE” OPENS IN PARIS

Built the same year as the Eiffel Tower, 1889, the Moulin Rouge, known as the “Palace of Women”, would cross paths with tango on many occasions…this was the time of the  “Belle Epogue”, a period of great progress, peace and optimism…the Moulin Rouge would help turn Paris into a city of entertainment and sexual liberation…the risque “Cancan” which, like tango, was originally a courtesan dance of seduction, was created there…the Cancan’s greatest star was the fascinating “La Goulue” who went from simple laundry girl to the highest paid dancer in the world for her outrageous, daring, seductive performances…she would become Toulouse Lautrec’s favorite subject for whom she would pose nude and scandalized proper Paris…Toulouse, reported to have had an oversized penis inspite of his short stature, was a frequenter of prostitutes and a lover of tango…like “Madam Yvonne”, in the classic tango by the same name, she ended her days destitute, alcoholic, straggled selling peanuts and cigarettes outside the Moulin Rouge unrecognized….Mistinguett, the other legendary Moulin Rouge star would have a major hit with the naughty tango “Tout Ca C’est Pour Vous” which she would record in 1928…

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In 1923 porteno Eduardo Armani, composer of  “Normina”, one of Carlos Gardel’s hits, directed Mistinguett at the Moulin Rouge in one of her famous plays…the captivating and mysterious Linda Thelma was one of the first to bring tango to Paris when she sang at the Moulin Rouge in the early part of the century; here she met Francisco Canaro…the beautiful Alina De Silva, called by Parisian newspapers “the star of tango, was actually Peruvian of French descent..in 1929 she began a series of celebrated performances at the Moulin Rouge…Imitations of Moulin Rouge sprang up all over the world…the Moulin Rouge in Montevideo was established by Emilio Matos, father of Gerardo Matos Rodriguez the composer of the immortal “La Cumparista”….here Pascual Contursi debuted his great classic “Mi Noche Triste” singing it himself…”Mi Noche Triste” is considered the prototype of what tango would become; nostalgic, melancholic, speaking of life’s tragic moments…Pascual Contursi, like Toulouse Latrec would die young from complications of alcoholism and syphlis…both Roberto Firpo and Francisco de Caro would compose a tango called “Moulin Rouge”

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1910, September 24 – DOMINGO SANTA CRUZ DEBUTS AT “LA MOROCHA” CAFE

Composer, Leader, Bandonist (Libra) – He debuted at the Cafe La Morocha with a quartet which included his brother Juan on piano…Inspired by the colorful Uruguayan revolutionary activist Aparicio Saravia da Rosa, Domingo Santa Cruz wrote the tango “Union Civica”; it was an immediate hit and continues to be recorded and played in milongas one hundred years later…at the time that he wrote it, he had to hum it to a friend at the piano, as he was totally uneducated in music…he was to write other popular tangos like ”Hernani”, “El Viejo”, “Una Duda”….at age 15 he had an accident, while closing a warehouse door a thick iron bar fell on his face landing on his leg; it was to leave him with a permanent limp and for the rest of his life he would be known affectionately as el “El Rengo…he was born in the neighborhood of El Once, in Buenos Aires…his father had fought in the war in Paraguay and was later a railroad foreman; in his moments of leisure he would play a small bandoneon which he had acquired in  pawn shop for a few pesos…

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From the moment the toddler Domingo, strong-willed in character, touched that bandoneon he was entranced with its sound and he would become an accomplished bandoneonist practically self taught…as a young man he found his first work playing in the neighborhood hangouts, La Morocha Cafe, El Cafe Atenas, the Cafe Tupi Namba in Montevideo often accompanied by his brother who was an accomplished pianist…eventually he and his brother opened a dance school , The Santa Cruz Academy of Popular Dances, where they would sponsor joyous tango dance contests often announced with great fanfare; the prize was more often than not, a handsome tailor-made suit provided by a neighborhood  tailor..Domingo had only one serious vice, he was a heavy smoker and he began to have health problems associated with it..doctors eventually told him that he had an intestinal tumor and that he would have to undergo surgery…a charity event to raise money for his medical expenses was held at which the best musicians of the day performed for free…nevertheless, during recovery broncopheumonia set in and he passed away at the age of 47

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1914, September 21 – FIRST “BAILE DEL INTERNADO”

It was the custom during the “Baile Del Internado” (Interns Ball) to play grotesque pranks using dead body parts and sheets to simulate ghosts…every  year on the first day of Spring, an interns ball was held and it was customary that tango orchestras would debut new tangos at these events….on the eleventh ball, on September 21, 1924 Osvaldo Fresedo debuted “El Once” (the eleventh)…it was to become one of the most beloved tangos in history and to this day, there is probably not a milonga somewhere in the world that does not play “El Once”…interestingly, it was a piece that he hurriedly improvised at the last moment…however, during this ball, during the one of the pranks, one of the students accidently got killed and the authorities thereafter forbade the balls..

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The first ball was held at the legendary Palais de Glace, the site of important tango events including, purportedly, the altercation where Carlos Gardel was shot in the lung…it was also the cite where a young Angel D’agostino debuted his first orchestra…the tangos premiered at those balls were generally tongue in cheek compositions…“El Matasano” (to kill a healthy person) was written by Francisco Canaro to celebrate the first such dance…others included  “Cura Segura” (sure cure) by Juan De Dios Filiberti, “El Serrucho” (the saw) by Luis Teisseire, “la Muela Careada” (the infected tooth) by Vicente Greco, “El Frenopatico” (the loony bin) by Osvaldo Pugliese, “Mano De Oro” (hand of gold) by Eduardo Pereyra, “El Cirujano” (the surgeon), “Anatomia” (anatomy) by Eduardo Arolas, “Aqui se Vacuna” (here we vaccinate)

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1941, September 5 – MARTIN PODESTA RECORDS “LA VIDA ES UNA MILONGA”

In the colorful paper envelope, the boys could feel their heart racing as the appointed moment neared…suddenly, the enveloped burst open to reveal the trio singing surrounded by adoring, beautiful girls…many years later, a frail 70-year-old Martin Podestà would look back on this part of his life as one of sheer happiness; “perhaps I should have had the courage to continue” he would say…at the age of 33 in the midst of a successful career he gave it all up to become a state employee…life as a tango singer, even for the successful ones, was always fraught with uncertainly…the competition was immense and for every tango singer who reached acclaim there were 100 vying for his post….a successful singer could be living a life of plenty one month and starving the next…Martin Podestà  grew up in the neighborhood of Flores with Hugo Del Carril who would one day become a legend in the tango and musical culture of Argentina….with Del Carril and another neighborhood boy, Martin formed a trio…

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With unbridled enthusiasm the boys spent long hours practising in a small room to the delight of passersby would stop and enjoy the music….the day finally arrived when they tested their work by serenading a young girl in the neighborhood with the waltz “Trovas”; the response was ecstatic and trio became the pride of Flores…”Trio Paris” was born and debuted to great acclaim on Radio Del Pueblo…at age 22 Martin received his first break when he was recruited by the Pedro Maffia Orchestra with which he toured including a performance at then famous “Casino” at Villa Del Mar in Chile; it was, Martin would recall in his waning years, “an experience beyond his dreams”…with Maffia he made one recording, the waltz by Sebastian Piana and Homero Manzi “Sombras Portenas” …it was used as the theme song for a film by the same name which premiered in 1936…the highlight of his career, however, occurred when he was recruited by the Pedro Laurenz Orchestra with which he recorded four tangos in four months including “La Vida Es Una Milonga” which premiered on September 5, 1941

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1916, September 4 – PREMIERE, CHAPLAIN IN “THE COUNT”

Chaplain is a tailor’s assistant and he and the tailor discover in a client’s suit pocket that a Count is expected at a high society ball…at the ball, they both pretend to be the Count seeking to win the favor of the daughter of a wealthy man who is called “Miss Money Bags” who is played by Edna Purviance…in the midst of alot of slapstick, he dances a facsimile tango with “Miss Money Bags”…Edna Purviance, the leading lady in over 30 films with Chaplain, grew up in Lovelock, Nevada  where she dreamed of being a concert pianist…she reluctantly heeded the advise of her mother and went to San Francisco to study business…one day while sitting at “TatesRestaurant” an agent for Charlie Chaplain happened to see her and thought she would be perfect as a leading lady for Chaplain’s new film “A Night Out”…she not only won the part but was Chaplain’s lover for many years…for this film Chaplain was not only the director but did the writing and editing as well…

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Two years earlier Chaplain danced the tango in another short “Tango Tangles”…actual tango dancing appears only briefly in the opening scene where a couple is dancing what appears to be a parody of a tango which metamorphosis into a ballet style movement…Charlie Chaplain plays an inebriated dandy who shows up at the “Dark Town Strutter Ball”, a  masked affair, makes a pass at the hat-check girl played by Sadie Lamp….her favors however are being sought by two other characters, the orchestra leader played by Ford Sterling and the clarinetist Roscoe Arbuckle, all legends of the silent movie era…George Bernard Shaw would say, “he was the only genius to come out of the movie industry”in real life Charlie Chaplain was an enthusiastic tango dancer…Julio De Caro would recall in his memoirs that in their debut at the Palais De La Mediteranee in  Nice in 1931, Chaplain suddenly began dancing while they were playing “El Monito” and everyone marvelled at how good he was

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1994, September 1 – PREMIERE OF “IL POSTINO”

Lead actor Massimo Troisi was oddly attached to the idea of a mid production change in the script in which his character “Mario Ruopolo” dies in the film “Il Postino”…when he died of heart failure immediately after the film was finished at the age of 42, it seemed to make sense of that attachment; perhaps somehow he had known that the end was near…Massimo Troisi had that rare gift of never having lost the genuineness of the small town just outside of Naples where he grew up; a colleague said of him, “fame and money did not change him…he remained like a teenager who lived everything like a gift; like an unexpected dream”…in fact,”Mario Ruopolo” in Il Postino was Massimo Troisi; simple, funny, humble, unassuming…a child bout with rheumatic fever damaged his heart a condition which was exacerbated when his mother died when he was young compelling him to begin difficult physical work…he had postponed heart surgery to do the film and during shooting a double was inserted whenever possible to preserve his strength

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In one of “Il Postino’s” most beautiful scenes, on his birthday Pablo Neruda receives an emotional audio tape of congratulations from his beloved friends in Chile; in the background Carlos Gardel is singing “Madreselva”….“Madreselva”, composed by Francisco Canaro with lyrics by Luis Cesar Amadori, appears several times in the film…in a romantic  scene, when Mario is visiting, Pablo Neruda and his beloved wife dance a tango to “Madreselva”…the dance continues outside with shots of the magnificent view of the island Salina where Il Postino was filmed….later Mario’s wedding feast, Pablo Neruda dances with Beatrice to “Madreselva” which is played by an accordion player…still later when Mario returns to Neruda’s now empty house, he plays the record “Madreselva” and imagines again Neruda dancing with his wife…”Il Postino” directed by Michael Radford  had great success internationally…for many years it was the largest grossing non-English language film ever made…it was nominated for five academy awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor…Massimo Troisi was posthumously  nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Actor”

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1933, August 31 – BIRTH OF SUSY LEIVA

Her life, like that of Julio Sosa, was cut short in a tragic car accident…like Julio Sosa she was at the height of her career…she was 33 years old; Julio had been 38…Susy was born in Buenos Aires and raised in Mendoza where she began singing as a teenager on Radio Nihil…her first break occurred when she was invited to sing on Radio Belgrano where she garnered great acclaim…a key event in her career occurred on May 1, 1954 where at an annual convention of unions, presided over by Juan Peron, she won “Miss Workers’ Day”… she made a splash on the populat TV show “Casino Philip” and was later invited to join the Juan Canaro orchestra with whom she  toured Japan and several south american countries.

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In Mexico at the house of Libertad Lamarque,  Mariano Mores happened to be present and an impromptu performance impressed him so much that he asked her to join his orchestra…she began to sing his composition “Frente al Mar” which catapulted her to great fame and was to become her trademark tango…returning from a performance in Rosario, with her husband at the wheel, they crashed into a trailer hitch and she died instantly…she will be remembered for her special interpretation of “El Patio De La Morocha” and “Sombras Nada Mas”…she starred in three films including the celebrated “Buenas Noches Buenos Aires” directed by Hugo Del Carril which premiered in 1964

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1961, August 30 – NESTOR FABIAN DEBUTS ON TV

The tenderness which he poured on his grand daughter “Zoe” was part of the simplicity and generosity which helped make him a beloved singer all over the world…Nestor Fabian was a devoted family man, motivated perhaps by the longing as a child, for the family which he never had…a tragic accident had made him an orphan and he was brought up by “Dona Rosa” who, with love and devotion, helped heal his pain…however his adoptive family was poor and he had to leave to school to work in a bag factory…during rare moments of leisure he listened to his idol Carlos Gardel…he loved to sing and would imitate the singers on Radio Belgrano to which he was totally devoted…on free nights he would sing in local bars and cafes of his San Telmo neighborhood for donations….his big break came at the age of 23 when his friend Norberto Aroldi arranged an audition for him with Maestro Mariano Mores…

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To his astonishment he was hired and found himself singing with an orchestra of 40 musicians; it was a dream come true…on August 30, 1961, he debuted on the popular program “Luces De Buenos Aires” on Channel 7 with “La Noche De Mi Amore”…the response was overwhelming and it launched his career….a career which included fabulously popular concerts in the Soviet Union in 1974 with the Attilo Stampone Orchestra and in 1988 a renown concert in Granada Spain…he starred in a number of films including “Buenas Noches Buenos Aires” where performed alongside Virginia Luque, Julio Sosa and Anibal Troilo….in “Los Muchachos De Antes No Usan Gomina” he first sang his hit “Tiempos Viejos”…he first met the popular singer Violeta Rivas in 1964 on the set of the TV drama “Todo Es Amor” …three years later their marriage became a major social event

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