Alberto Hidalgo

Real name: Morandeira, Juan José
Nicknames: El Chino
(27 July 1940 - )
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Felipe Yofre

ral tradition brings us back the landscape of the Buenos Aires neighborhoods, many of them still protected from demolition. So, Flores Sur is, surrounding like a ring the distinction of the Italian small palaces of Flores Norte and differing from the latter by its attire of low and proletarian little houses.

A little far beyond, the Bajo Flores, with lands prone to flooding today reclaimed from the small lake to build monoblocks and soccer stadiums, by then with its environment of garbage dumps, slaughter houses and furnaces for firing bricks.

Precisely from there a cart steered by don Juan María Morandeira, a Spaniard from Lugo, returned towards his house on Balbastro and Carabobo. A few vices tied this worker who, furthermore, was milkman. Among them were the streetcorner gang, his pals and dancing.

So fond of dancing was don Juan María that until his 82th birthday he frequented the cheap locals with his blue impeccable clothes that were brushed by his wife (la patrona) at the familiar yard before his departure.

This scene, which was strong, marked forever his son Juan José, who adhered to tango as an extension of his old man’s likings and began singing at the clubs of the area up to the time his chance arrived. Antonio Cantó, an orchestra announcer, had organized a contest at the Club Tucumán on Carabobo and Avenida del Trabajo (today Eva Perón Avenue) and Juan José won it.

As from that time he used the sobriquet Alberto Hidalgo. He used to have a long straight hair with long thick sideburns, a black mole on his face and his Indian-like face, gesturing with his mouth tough tangos. All this happened at the Tango Bar on Rivadavia and Fray Cayetano Rodríguez when he was already vocalist of the Miguel Nijensohn orchestra (1958) where he shared the bill with Julio Sosa and Ángel Vargas.

The financial hardship of the sixties drove him back to his profession of master builder and later to drive a bus of the 7 line. One day Juan Zucchelli, creator of the radio program El tango y sus ases, got on that bus, heard him humming a tune and acted as mediator with Alfredo Gobbi so as the latter would hire him.

Unforgettable years he spent alongside El violín romántico del tango until the pianist Fulvio Salamanca, that in 1965 was at his peak, thought that he and Osvaldo Piro would be nice to enhance his orchestra. To pose that suggestion to Gobbi was not easy, but the latter replied: «If he does not want to leave, he’ll be fired. You’re here to open doors». By that time the orchestra recorded three long-playing records and Chino imposed hits like: “Cautivo”, “El potrerito”, “Frase” and teaming up with another singer of the orchestra —Julio Rodolfo— “Así fui yo”, “Mi novia de ayer” and “Una rubia que vive en la luna”.

Three years later, his friend Osvaldo Piro, now leader of his own aggregation, summoned him to appear in Michelangelo, on television and at Caño 14 on Talcahuano Street.

His itinerant vocation led him to settle in Caracas (Venezuela) where he used to wear a tropical outfit and danced to joropo beat; and to appear as well with José Basso and Eduardo Cortti and to substitute for Roberto Goyeneche at a venue, where to announce him they placed posters that said: «A Chinese for a Pole».

The lack of tango interpreters in the media, like radio or television, makes us be deprived of enjoying this deep voice, with good intonation and deeply rooted in Buenos Aires.

Carrying on his old man’s habits, he boasts in his right hand finger a gold ring with diamonds; has dinner once a week on Bulnes and Soler with his friends and, from Wednesdays to Sundays, a large number of people are touched by him at La Cumparsita —on Chile and Balcarce— in the heart of San Telmo.

Editorial Office’s note: After this portrayal in 2000 he recorded a compact disc entitled El Chino with guest artists such as José Colángelo, Rubén Juárez and Hugo Rivas. In 2008 the Legislatura de la ciudad de Buenos Aires recognized him as Personalidad Destacada de la Cultura (Outstanding Personality of Our Culture).