Margarita Silvestre

Real name: Russo, Margarita Luisa
Singer and composer
(2 November 1923 - n/d)
Place of birth:
Ubaldo Tuqui Rodríguez

er life is linked to tango and theater because her father, Nicolás Russo, known as Nicolás Rossi, was a singer, actor, guitarist and brother of the actor Enrique de Rosas. Her mother Francisca Cosentino had appeared and sung at some shows under the sobriquet Fanny Rossi.

In 1927, when her parents made a tour of Venado Tuerto, Margarita made her debut at theater when she was only four. At age twelve she was in the cast of the Pandilla Corazón conducted by Julio Jorge Nelson on Radio Callao. Enzo Ardigó recommended her to see Juan Manuel Puente, director of Radio Splendid. Her debut on radio took place on August 1, 1941 accompanied by the Hermanos Cuccaro and Zapico on guitars, according to the Gutiérrez Miglio’s book El tango y sus intérpretes, Volume 4.

Margarita Silvestre (Wild Daisy) was a name given by her parents. She told me that in Ituzaingó there were many red wild daisies growing in the fields. On some occasion she tried to plant them at home but they never grew, however they very well grew in the fields with no one to look after them: «I am like those daisies». Héctor Gagliardi used to describe her as: «So plain and simple like her name».

She appeared on several radio stations: Splendid, Belgrano, El Mundo and Argentina. She was starred in several soap operas on radio like Cuando los moños color sangre, in Por las calles del recuerdo alongside Héctor Gagliardi on Radio Belgrano, Clubes del interior aired by Radio Antártida and Querencia gaucha featuring Los Arrieros.

She appeared at several tearooms of Buenos Aires such as Tibidabo, Novelty, the cabaret Chantecler, Ruca, La Armonía and La Querencia. Also at the Tabarís.

In Montevideo, she appeared at the Teatro Solís in the play Martín Fierro, a poem by José Hernández adapted to theater by José González Castillo. It was premiered on September 10, 1948. Domingo Sapelli was director of the play and was featured as the leading actor. It was a play which included dances and live music. Margarita sang at the Café Ateneo where she was acquainted with the singer Julio Sosa.

Estela Dos Santos in her book Las cantantes (The female singers) says about her: «At the time when lunfardo was banned on the Argentine radio it was a pleasure for the Buenos Aires inhabitants to hear her recordings aired by Radio Colonia in its never-ending tango afternoons spiced with its striking news. So we heard “Pato” and “Mama, yo quiero un novio”, pronouncing the s as if she were a Rosita Quiroga recently born in the outskirts».

She composed the tangos “Por mi fe” with lyrics by Héctor Gagliardi and “Barrio de juguete” with lyrics by Ricardo Russo.

Even though she does not remember the exact date, Margarita quit show business in 1956. Her last gig was with the Roberto Caló Orchestra in 1955.

There are recordings with guitar accompaniment from radio broadcasts: “El cardo azul”, “Colorao colorao”, “Ronda de ensueño”, “Negra María”, “La mañanita”, “Barrio pobre”, “Mi corazón te llama”, “Aleteando”, “La nueva vecina”, “Serenata gaucha”, “India”, “Barrio de juguete” and “Vieja luna”.

There are also recordings made for the Uruguayan label Sondor in October 1948: “La morocha”, “Pato” and “Mama yo quiero un novio” with the first stanzas recited by her father and accompanied by the orchestra led by Hugo Di Carlo. But this discography is not complete because when Margarita retired she continued making private recordings.

I was lucky to get in touch with Oscar Izurieta (El Vasco), a tango connoisseur in Mar del Plata. When I asked him about Margarita Silvestre he told me: «For God’s sake, what a singer!, Margarita was a monster. In 1953 she used to rehearse in a room of Radio Belgrano. She was a nice girl, the employees of the radio station admired her and loved her. Everybody loved her.

«She was the icon of the female singer that sings well. She was always very exacting and her goal was to be a good singer, she had no other interest.»

The guitarist Enrique Bruzzo used to say: «After Nelly Omar comes Margarita Silvestre». At that time Nelly was regarded as the top figure in tango and popular song. She was Roberto Grela’s choice.

In 1948 the newspaper El País of Montevideo headed its article as: «Margarita Silvestre, a great female singer».

«...We thought we had discovered not the only one or the best but someone different: something that was new for our popular songbook. Possibly this is her best virtue...» «...Margarita Silvestre sings through her soul. She deeply feels her songs. She changes so much that she is another one when she sings quite different from the gaucha and simple girl that thanks the applauses. Here at El País she told us that she would come all the times we would ask her to.»

People in Uruguay highly regarded Margarita Silvestre, her humbleness, her simplicity, her slender figure and her voice which made her be La Morocha Argentina by that time.

NOTE: This article is an excerpt from: Margarita Silvestre, aquella morocha argentina, which can be read in the virtual publication known as Tango Litoral.