Archive for the ‘ Argentinean ’ Category

1933, January 23 – Gardel Records “LA CANCION DE BUENOS AIRES”

Who knows that if Carlos Gardel had not recorded “La Cancion de Buenos Aires” it might have been just another of the thousands of tangos with momentary flashes to then be relegated to the dust bin of oblivion…instead this piece, which was written by Orestes Cufaro and Azucena Maizani, is one of the most successful tangos in history…it would be hard to find a tango performer of renown who has not recorded it…twice it was made into a film; in 1945 directed by Julio Irigoyen and in 1980 directed by Fernando Siro…it was a minor hit for singer Alberto Castillo when he sang it in Manuel Romero’s 1948 film El Tango Vuelve a Paris…Orestes Cufaro was born in the city of Rosario, Argentina where his father was a pianist and an orchestra director…his father was his first teacher and it soon became evident that young Orestes was a child prodigy…he made his performance debut at the age of eleven at the Belgrano Cinema as the pianist for the Abel Bedruna Orchestra; he was so impressive that he soon found himself playing in the best cafes, cinemas and theaters in Rosario…

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At age 18 he made the big move to Buenos Aires where he debuted at Radio Prieto; along the way he met singer Azucena Maizani  who would record his first tango “Usted Sabe Senor Juez” ….within these circles he came to know playwrite and future icon of the Argentinean film industry Manuel Romero who asked him to write a theme song for his play “La Cancion de Buenos Aires”; for this he sought the collaboration of Azucena Maizani …Carlos Gardel was very fond of Azucena; he seemed to take an almost fatherly concern for her, frequently inquiring of Orestes about her well being…it was out of friendship for Azucena that Gardel agreed to record “La Cancion de Buenos Aires”….Orestes would compose a number of other hits including “Vencido” and “Una y Mil Noches”…Manuel Romero was one of the most successful lyricists in history; Carlos Gardel himself recorded 19 of his tangos…Romero would write 180 plays and direct 53 films in his career all them with similar characteristics; simple and heart-moving scripts where the typical characters were the poor young lover, the young rich girl in love with him and the cavalier son of a tycoon who vies for her hand

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1948, January 16 – PREMIERE, “THE TANGO RETURNS TO PARIS”

Director Manuel Romero was not a nice person, he had a terrible temper and was difficult to work for….he tended to work frenetically, writing as he went along and finishing a film as soon as possible; perhaps he had in mind his considerable gambling debts…he was immensely prodigious in his career; he was to make 53 films…he started as a playwrite, his first one being “Teatro Breve”; 149 others were to follow including some very successful ones..he worked as a journalist for the respected “Fray Mocho” magazine and even wrote the lyrics to numerous tangos including the two hits “Tomo Y Oblio”  (which was Carlos Gardel’s Last Tango) and “Tiempos Viejos”…his films followed the same formula, simple, heart-wrenching scripts complete with the poor boy in love with a rich girl who is being pursued by the cavalier son of the local tycoon all of it contrasted by a good dose of comedy and lots of tangos; the critics hated it, the people loved it

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“The Tango  Returns to Paris”(El Tango Vuelve a Paris) was another showcase for singer Alberto Castillo who was a board certified gynecologist by day and a crooner by night….his practise was so invaded by young girls that he reluctantly had to quit his medical practise and devote himself to singing…in the film, Alberto plays “Alberto” who is also a medical doctor whose passion is tango and who, along with a group of friends decides to try to reignite tango passions in Paris…there is, of course, a love story and humourous situations which present ample opportunity to sing several tangos including “Ninguna”, “Griseta”, and “Muñeca brava”…the film stars a boyish Anibal Troilo and his orchestra and is the only one where Anibal actually has a speaking part…the film also features legendary Mexican singer Elvira Rios who had that dark, mysterious quality in her style which one critic likened to Zara Leander…she had considerable success in the United States as well as Latin America and was one of the first Latinos to break into  Hollywood

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VwAsWC3_so to see a clip from the film “The Tango Returns to Paris” in which Alberto Castillo sings“Muneca Brava” composed in 1929 by Luis Visca with lyrics by Enrique Cadicamo

1951, January 10 – PREMIERE, “CON LA MUSICA EN EL ALMA”

Francisco Canaro had the midas touch, he made money in everything he touched with one exception, film making…he was to say, “sound movies left me completely silent” “Con La Musica en El Alma” was his last film and it was in theory successful but not for Canaro, he had to sue his production partners to recoup his 400, 000 peso investment…not that he needed the money; he was undoubtably the richest man in tango history…a common saying to refer to some one of means was, “he is rich like Canaro”….after this attempt, he sold what was left of his Rio Plata Production Company…the film was based on the musical by the same name, written by Homero Manzi, which had been produced two years earlier…it was staged at the Teatro Casino and was headlined by legendary child actor Andres Poggio  ”Toscanito”,  and singer Alberto Arenas;

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It was also the early start of actor Alberto Dalbes who would have a long and fruitful career in Argentinean films…Francisco Canaro, as well as providing the music, also had a small role…the play had a highly successful six month run and was then moved to the Teatro Artigas in Montevideo, Canaro’s home town…the success of the play inspired Canaro to convert it into a film which premiered at the Normandie Theater…Toscanito and Alberto Arenas reappear in the film with the addition of beloved comedic dancer Tito Luisardo who appeared in over 40 films to the delight of his legion of fans…the film was directed by Spanish film director Luis Bayon Herrera who found success in Argentina and remained there for the rest of his life…several notable tangos were featured like “Mataderos”; “Boliche de barrio”; “Sentimiento Gaucho” and Canaro’s intriguing Tango Fantasia in F…when Canaro died of a strange and rare bone growth disorder his immense fortune was apportioned between his French wife and his daughters born of his affair with a young, seductive chorus  girl he had met through one of his musicals

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1941, January 8 – ALBERTO CASTILLO RECORDS “RECUERDO”

This tango waltz was the first hit for  Dr. Alberto De Luca, gynecologist who in the evening was the idolized singer Alberto Castillo…two years earlier he had decided to quit singing altogether to devote himself to his medical studies….he was seduced to come back by an invitation from Ricardo Tanturi to join his important orchestra….”Recuerdo” was also the first major hit for the Tanturi orchestra; Tanturi, interestingly was himself a dentist…Castillo was to remain with Tanturi for five years producing some notable hits during that period…a year after the release of “Recuerdo”, Alberto graduates from medical school and becomes a board certified gynecologist…he tried to practise medicine but in the mornings he would find his studio full of young ladies waiting to see him and he finally and reluctantly had to give up medicine and devote himself exclusively to singing…there was one famous incident in 1944 whereby, for a concert at the Teatro Alvear, the swarm of people waiting to get in was so huge, that the police had to call in extra forces to control traffic…..

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Alberto was also a naturally gifted actor; he made 12 films starting with “Adios Pampa Mia” in 1946…Alberto Castillo was born in the neighborhood of Floresta, Buenos Aires, the fifth child of immigrants from Teggiano, Italy…very early on he demonstrated great musical ability; he took violin lesson and had the habit of singing no matter where he was or what he was doing…when he was 15 years old he was singing with a group of friends on a street corner when the guitarist Armando Neira happened by and was immediately struck by the voice of the young boy; he invited him to sing with his group….And thus began his career at the age of 15 using the alias Alberto Dual to protect him from his severe father who wanted him to seek a career in medicine

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1912, January 6 – BIRTH OF CARMELITA AUBERT

Singer (Capricorn) – when Carmelita Aubert sang the tango “Clemencia”(forgiveness) in the film “Abajo Los Hombres” it was a coded message seeking a pardon for the miners who had participated in the legendary “Astruias Uprising” which director Valentin R. Gonzalez, a supporter of the Republic, had inserted into the film…authorities saw through it and the tango was censured… these were tense and chaotic days in Spain, one year before the outbreak of the tragic Spanish Civil War whose carnage would cost 500, 000 lives and wounds that would take generations to heal…when Carmencita returned to Spain on October 6, 1944 from self-exile in Portugal, she was immediately arrested…when the news reached Portugal, her beloved, loyal fans engaged in spontaneous and protracted demonstrations in front of the Spanish embassy and the news became front page headlines around the world…20 days later the Franco dictatorship gave in and released Carmelita

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Carmelita Aubert was born in Barcelona, to a mother who was a well-known vaudeville actress and dancer…early on it became obvious that Carmelita loved to sing and dance and she enrolled her in the noted Cariteu Academy...her break came when legendary comedic actor Carlos Saldana “Alady” happen to hear her sing and was immediately impressed with her gifted voice and ability to connect with the public…19 year old Carmelita  found herself performing along side “Alady” in her debut with him at the sea port resort town of Arenys De Mar…in Barcelona she made her first tango recording, “Con Todo Amor”, with Mario Visconti,  a young singer and guitarist; she was praised by the magazine “El Tango De Moda”…she starred in her first movie “Mercedes”  in 1932 , where her screen partner was Argentinean singer and song writer Hector Morel; the film was an enormous success…two tangos from the film, “Alma de Tango” and the waltz “Mercedes” became big hits on radio but her “mystique”, that elusive, coveted quality, emanated when she sang the “Cocaina En Flor (cocaine in flower) radio perfume ads.

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1952, January 3 – PREMIERE OF “MI NOCHE TRISTE”

The film is based on the life of poet Pascual Contursi with one important difference, in real life Pascual would die alone, in a mental hospital suffering from dementia brought on by the  late stages of syphlis…Pascual’s lyrics had revolutionized tango…previously they had been joyful and gay; he turned them into something nostalgic and melancholy and set them in houses of prostitution where so much of tango culture was born…it was apparently something that he had personal experience with; an experience that would cost him a particularly tragic and painful death at the age of 44…the film, which premiered at the Grand Rex Cinema in Buenos Aires, was directed by Lucas Demare (born July 14, 1910, Cancer) …the soundtrack for the film was composed by legendary Lucio Demare, Lucas’ older brother and was performed in the film by Anibal Troilo and his orchestra…

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The film’s plot, in point of fact, reflects Pascual’s real life experience whereby the main character, a joyful poet, musician and singer falls madly in love with a young beautiful singer by the name of Lita…his wife catches them kissing and leaves Pascual and takes their son with her…intoxicated with love, Pascual decides to stay with Lita and indeed to work where she works so that he can remain near her…for Lita, the infatuation eventually disappears and she leaves him, leaving behind a distraught shell of a man whose life consists of dreaming hopelessly of her return and drinking heavily…however, it is from this experience that Contursi writes “Lita”  which Carlos Gardel records as “Mi Noche Triste” ; it is the first “Tango Cancion” (sung tango) and the first tango that Gardel records…it is this tango which in time is a major hit and which turnsGardel from a regional folk singer to an international tango legend…at the end of the film, singer Oscar Alonso is heard singing the theme song of the film about whom Anibal Troilo was to say “after Gardel, he was the best tango singer of all time”…Pascual’s son Jose Maria Contursi would surpass his father in his love of the night life and meet a similar end

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1911, December 31 – BIRTH OF AMANDA LEDESMA

Singer (Capricorn) – working  in a dress shop, shy Amanda was beloved by the customers for her sweetness and her attentive service…when she was not working she was singing but she did not think she was particularly good; she just hoped some day the right boy would ask her to get married and take her away…her friends would ask her to sing at their celebrations…one day one of them  told her about a singing contest at the Gaumont Theater and encouraged her to enter but she was highly reluctant; eventually she was convinced…she did not win but a director of the renown Radio Prieto happened to be present, like her voice and ask her to do a tryout at the stati0n…for her debut she sang “Alma En Pena” where she was accompanied by non other than Miguel Calò on piano…it was a success and invitations from other radio stations followed and then performances in the one-act theater farces which were all the rage at the time…

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Eventually Luis Moglia Barth picked her for his second film “Dancing” which was a box office failure; still Amanda was one of the few bright spots in the film…in her career she would star in 21 films…for her first recording in 1937 she sang “Condena” and the waltz “Primavera”…She was to see her greatest success however, in Mexico to where she moved in 1942…there she was “The Blond Goddess of Tango”, an image she cured assiduously by dyeing her hair blond and taking  fanatical care of her skin that it remain white…indeed it was rumored a film contract stipulated that she was never to sunbathe….for her appearances she tended to dress in white; never provocative….her film “Cuando Quiere Un Mexicano” in 1944 with Mexican singer and Latin American heart throb Jorge Negrete skyrocketed her fame….she was the first Argentinean star to move to Mexico to further her career; many others were to follow including the legendary Libertad Lamarque….in 1956 at the age of 45 apparently she had had enough and returned to Argentina and retired

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