Francisco Fiorentino

Real name: Fiorentino, Francisco
Singer, bandoneon player and composer
(23 September 1905 - 11 September 1955)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Ricardo García Blaya

iorentino was, no doubt, the archetype of the orchestra singer, a concept which synthetically describes the main feature of tango in the 40s, when the singer was a member of the group on the same level as the musicians. Fiorentino and Troilo achieved a well-oiled mechanism, of a perfect match where the orchestra was spotlighted in a long introduction to afterwards provide the adequate background necessary for the singer´s showcasing.

He was not virtuoso, his voice was small and his diction was far from impeccable, but these technical disadvantages did not hamper his amazing success. In my opinion, his interpretations of the tangos “Gricel”, “Garúa” and “De barro”, of the waltz “Tu diagnóstico” and of the milonga “Mano brava” turned out anthological.

His personality, his taste and the permanent supervision by Pichuco resulted in an intimate singer of great warmth in his interpretation who knew how to touch the audience, establishing himself as a milestone in the history of tango vocalists.
His artistic career beside Troilo lasted six years. His début was at Marabú night club on July 1st, 1937 and he left Troilo on March 1944.

In spite of his short life, his career in music was long and changing. He started playing bandoneon; he had got the instrument as a gift from his brother Vicente Fiorentino and he began to study at the Conservatory led by Minotto Di Cicco, an outstanding Uruguayan player who was for years lead bandoneon in Francisco Canaro´s orchestra. His early gigs were in groups which he and his brother Vicente, a violinist, integrated to play at cinemas and cafés all over the country. At that time he commenced to sing as soloist at some radio broadcasts and on other Buenos Aires scenarios.

In 1928, he had a chance to be included as bandoneon player in the Francisco Canaro orchestra, who realizing Fiorentino's qualities, allowed him to perform as estribillista (refrain singer) on various occasions.

Since then, he continued with that twofold capacity of bandoneonist and refrain singer in a great number of orchestras —Juan Carlos Cobián, Roberto Firpo, Pedro Maffia, Juan D'Arienzo, Roberto Zerrillo, Minotto Di Cicco— and taking part in recording and broadcasts.

In 1934, as estribillista in Roberto Zerrillo's orchestra, he produced the unique event of singing a tango with its complete lyric on the recording of “Serenata de amor” by Zerrillo and Orestes Cúfaro. So this foretold the end of the estribillistas´ era to give way to the orchestra singer's era.

After his stay with Troilo, the highest point in his career, Fiorentino put together his own orchestra, which was arranged and conducted by Astor Piazzolla, with which, in spite of recording 22 songs, he did not achieve what he expected. Ismael Spitalnik, a remarkable bandoneonist and arranger, replaced Piazzolla to conduct the orchestra; they recorded two more tunes.

Not always success achieved with audiences is a determining factor to establish the level of quality of the artistic product. The combination Fiorentino-Piazzolla was avant-garde for that time and with this, his first experience in leading an orchestra, Astor is foretelling his innovative proposal by the side of a mature and in full form Fiore.

His decline was slow but inevitable. More than ten years elapsed since his debut with Troilo and by the end of the 40s he was still in several important orchestras, such as José Basso's and Alberto Mancione's, among others, but no longer with his yesterday's success; anyway, he commited to record some pieces.

Finally he moved to Uruguay, in 1951, to join the group led by the pianist José Puglia and the bandoneonist Edgardo Pedroza. With this orchestra he made his last three recordings on November 1951.

He died on Septiembre 11, 1955 in an accident in the province of Mendoza, placed a thousand kilometers far from the city of Buenos Aires.