The tenor Tito Schipa and Tango
affaele Attilio Amadeo Schipa (Tito Schipa) Italian singer and composer, born on January 2,1889 in the city of Lecce, head of the province with the same name which has an extension of 2800 square kilometers in the region of Puglia, which is also integrated by the provinces of Bari, Matera, Brindisi and Taranto, which shape the heel of the peninsular boot. He made 13 trips to the Argentine Republic where he performed the classical opera repertory and something else.
Most of the times he performed in the Teatro Colón, but also he was at the Coliseo and Politeama theaters, on radios El Mundo, Belgrano and Excelsior, Politeama Argentino theater in La Plata, Ateneo Popular Esteban Echeverría in San Fernando, and also he displayed his art in Teatro de la Ópera and odeon theater in Rosario, Rivera Indarte in Córdoba; odeon and Alberdi theaters in Tucumán, theaters Cóndor and San Rafael in Mendoza.
As a rare coincidence our country was the first (1913) and the last (1954) where Schipa sang operas outside Italy. During this last year he carried an intense activity: he sang in the Anfiteatro Eva Perón at the Parque Centenario singing three different operas in eighteen days, twice each: Lucia de Lamermoor, January 1, L'elisir d'amore, January 24 and February 2, La Traviata, January 29 and 31. Later recitals in the National Penitenciary on February 13,1954.
On February 18 in that year, he gathered 100.000 people on the 9 de Julio Avenue and Balcarce street, he was accompanied by the Municipal Orchestra. On March 3, 1954 he performed in the first International Festival of Cinema held in Mar del Plata in the open air, and finally he concluded his recitals in the Teatro Colón, in Mendoza, San Rafael, San Juan and Tucumán.
This unique artist loved our country and our music, especially tango, not only he sang it but also he composed tangos. We regard the words included in one of his records released in Argentina as our own.
«Tito Schipa was no longer a foreign artist on the very moment he stepped on our land, and he needed little to adopt Spanish American ways and to feel tango as it had been conceived. He immediately was bewitched by the inspiration of its creators.»
On his first tour to Argentina in 1913, he sang in the Teatro Colón season offering Bellini's opera The Sleepwalker, this happened on June 16, three days later he sang Thomas' opera Mignon, and later on July 10, Verdi's La Traviata on August 31 in the Teatro Opera in Rosario he sang The Sleepwalker again.
This intense activity did not prevent him from composing a tango with authentic «criollo» taste: “El coquetón”, whose cover we display thanks to the courtesy of Mr Francisco Armentano. There is a non professional recording of this piece by the concert pianist Silvia Keserbaun.
Another tango composed by him is “El gaucho [b]”, he recorded it in New York on September 11, 1928 and in 1932 in his role as actor in the film Tres hombres en frac he remembered tango again and composed and sang “Esperanza [b]”. He also wrote the following tangos: “Ojos lindos y mentirosos” (1921), “El pampero” (1937), “Surriento” (1953).
In his visits to our country in the years 1930, 1931 and 1934, Schipa, besides carrying out very busy lyrical seasons, recorded six tangos which were received with approval by tango followers, these are: “La cumparsita”, “Confesión”, “Dónde estás corazón”, “Tinieblas”, “Dímelo al oído” y “Vida mía”.
In 1931 he also recorded an aria of Boero's opera El Matrero. These recordings made in RCA Victor were accompanied by the Típica Victor, Francisco Lomuto and Osvaldo Fresedo orchestras.
In a catalogue published in 1931 we found a review about the artist which we transcribe considering that the artistic judgment of his contemporaries is a perfect climactic end to this article.
«Tito Schipa is undoubtedly the tenor most popular in all Latin America and his records sung in Spanish are among the preferred ones by all audiences due to his clear diction and the faithful interpretation he unfolds in the popular romanzas.»
Raffaele Attilio Amadeo Schipa died in New York on December 16, 1965 leaving us his incomparable art in his double character of interpreter of music, whether universal or national.
Tito Schipa Jr (di), Tito Schipa
Francisco Armentano, conversations with Tito Schipa Published in INTERJUNTAS
Edition for Interjuntas and Club de Tango, Nine 1998.