29 Apr 2008

"Maria de Buenos Aires" turns 40

In the present moment, Apr 2008

The coming 8 May 2008 marks 40 years of the première of "Maria de Buenos Aires", an operita work of Astor Piazzolla in collaboration with the poet Horacio Ferrer that became known around the world.

It is a surrealistic song cycle-like story told in 2 parts, recounting the life and death of Maria, who came from the slums of Buenos Aires to the city, fell to the seduction of tango and became a streetwalker. After her death, Maria was condemned to hell - of the city of Buenos Aires itself. Her shadow wanders through Avenida Corrientes, the epicenter of cinemas and theatres in Buenos Aires.

"Maria de Buenos Aires" was the first collaborative work between Piazzolla and Ferrer, the start of a partnership that left compositions from "Balada para un loco" to "Chiquilín de Bachín", "El Gordo Triste", "La ultima Grela" and many others.

The operita premièred on 8 May 1968 in the Sala Planeta, located at the streets Suipacha and Paraguay in the microcentro of Buenos Aires, with Piazzolla (bandonenon) and Ferrer (narrator): sang by Amelita Baltar and Hector de Rosas, Hugo Baralis and Antonio Agri (violins), Nestor Panik (viola), Victor Pontino (cello), Kicho Diaz (bass), Tito Bisio (vibes), Cacho Tirao (guitar) and Arturo Schneider (flute).

The operita was released in September of the same year under the recording label Trova (LP Trova TL-20/2).

It has been reported that Maria de Buenos Aires will form part of the next season of the Colon Theater, which herself will turn a century old this year.

The above has been partially sourced and translated from the publication "La Portena Tango", Buenos Aires, Issue No.45, April 2008.

Writer´s notes:
1. During his lifetime, Piazzolla struggled for recognition for his avant garde creations to be regarded as tango by the country that gave birth to him and his music. The acceptance came perhaps slowly, and not until his works shot to fame overseas before this land took their prodigal son to their embrace. Maria de Buenos Aires was one of the key works that led to his resounding success around the world, that came to know of Astor Piazzolla and tango.

2. Since my arrival in Buenos Aires almost a year ago, the grand Theater Colon has been stubbornly barracaded behind scaffoldings for renovation works.

I heard that the reopening of Theater Colon is scheduled for May 2008! Although this remains to be seen. Renovation works of heritage structures can be notoriously tricky to manage.

3. The Trova re-issue is a double CD 5013 & 5014 (1993, Argentina).

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18 Apr 2008

La Revancha Del Tango! Reloaded

In the present moment, Apr 2008

Musings for fellow tango pilgrims to Buenos Aires.
Imagine this: -

Living next door to your preferred place of milonga patronage? Be it either El Beso, Maipu 444 or Salon Canning, Villa Malcolm or perhaps, the swinging La Viruta. How cool. How absolutely wonderful that would be, you say?

In all innocence, I had envisioned living in super-close proximity to the milongas to be a most marvelous thing. Due to either the size of my small country or (much closer to the truth) having very lazy bones, I have some reticence towards commuting. To make the dreary trudge back from the milongas, especially at the late hours when sleep calls, is entirely lacking in appeal. I confess there had been more than a few times that I changed my mind and opted out of venturing out to the milongas, upon thinking of the “distance” of the return trip in the wee hours of the morning...

[Yes, yes, many of you would be first to point out that I left everything behind to come here halfway around the world to dance tango. But at 4.30 am in the morning with tired eyes and feet in the aftermath of hours of dancing, things appear in a somewhat different light…. ]

When the opportunity to relocate back to the area of Av. Corrientes came along a couple of months ago, I was eager and full of hope. This area held great familiarity since I first settled down here when I arrived in Buenos Aires mid-last year. The frequent haunts of my routine life in Buenos Aires are all located within the convenience of a 4-block radius. My favourite tango music shops, favourite pizza places and the essential ice-cream store that I can’t do without. Same goes for my yoga classes.

Even when I subsequently moved to another barrio in a nicer district for six months, I never cut my umbilical links with the hectic streets around Corrientes. Regular as clockwork, I always came up with some reasons to return and make my rounds every couple of days.

Back to my story. I remembered thinking to myself almost gloatingly back then... ... SO... not only will I return to familiar grounds of Av. Corrientes, on top of it all I shall get to live next door to one of the most popular downtown milongas? What an unexpected bonus! No more traveling! I was delighted at the delicious idea of popping back next door upstairs to a nice comfortable bed, night after night of dancing.

Just shows that flights of fantasies are fine and well…. Reality “es otra cosa” (reality is another thing). Admittedly in my sheer enthusiasm, there were a couple of factors that I had blindly failed to consider in assessing the suitability of my current place. Firstly, the apartment is “frente”. This is the local realtor speak for an apartment facing the front of the building. Usually such apartments are sought after over another apartment without a forward aspect. Secondly, the apartment is on the first floor.

Two innocuous details by themselves. When the building is next to a dance club that plays music almost every night “till late” (remember, this is the Buenos Aires concept of “late”), together, they become a deadly combination.

What is bad tango music? The tongue-in-cheek answer is that it has nothing to do with the orchestra. “Bad” tango music is ANY tango music that won’t go away when you are trying to get some sleep. It could be your favourite orchestras. No matter. After a number of wakeful nights with earplugs in place, lovely tango music no longer inspires one to put on those uber-chic Comme Il Faut stilettos and dance the night away. Instead, the four walls of one's room seem to reverberate with strains of the infamous “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston, co-starred Kevin Coster in the movie Bodyguard.

La Revancha Del Tango!
(The Revenge of Tango!)

From nights of “observation", the tango club next door plays a certain style of tango music. The theme is lyrical, with a soothing tinge. Like a defining signature, De Sarli puts in an appearance without fail, putting his stamp of endorsement on the evening. Often present is the Tanturi and Campos pairing and other times his other singer Castillo who sings with “arrabalero” gusto, the accents of the barrios. In with the lyrical mix is Calo of course, Demare, an occasional De Angelis, some lyrical Troilo with Fiorentino. Fresedo also lends well to the mood here. As evident, on the whole nothing overtly frantic.

I can’t resist a final Parthian shot. Imagine this: D'Arienzo at his irresistible, manic best would wreck havoc on the languid mood with his picado music. Antz Pantz, off your chairs everyone!

Postnote #1:
Sadly, the new place has no internet which has been disruptive on this writer’s impulse to blog en vivo (live). A big sorry to friends who wondered what happened to the news ??

Postnote #1:
This blog was written purely tongue-in-cheek, inspired by nights of tango music next door with no OFF switch. A situation entirely due to the writer's own making for letting enthusiasm over-ride commonsense. This writer still loves tango music. Dancing to tango music in the milongas of Buenos Aires still gives her goose-bumps (see earlier entry “Ah, the music!” upon arrival in Buenos Aires). Here, tango music sounds unbelievably sweet and intense, more dizzily intoxicating than the golden bubbles in champagne.

Let this dancer immerse in your champagne bubbles, tango!!

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