Azucena Maizani

Real name: Maizani, Azucena
Nicknames: La Ñata Gaucha y Azabache
Singer, composer and lyricist
(17 November 1902 - 15 January 1970)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Néstor Pinsón
| Ricardo García Blaya

long with Rosita Quiroga, Azucena paved the way to many female singers who sprung out in the early 20s, starting the definitive participation of women in tango.

Each one had a style and a repertory of her own, and even though all them sang according to the fashion of the age, treble voice and a somewhat kitsch taste, they could perfectly be distinguished from each other, while their quality allowed them to last long in time. For years she performed dressed with masculine apparel, or with folk gaucho outfit, as can be seen in Tango, the first Argentine movie with soundtrack. This aggressive image for a woman, was in contrast with the reality of her time.

Azucena was romantic and temperamental. She sang with emotion the lyrics which portrayed humble neighborhood girls´ love affairs and disappointments, in fact, stories of her own youth.

She was also a romantic because she was unable to find either a stable lover or somebody who could intelligently and disinterestedly guide her.

She was born in the city of Buenos Aires on November 17, 1902, and at five she moved, with some relatives, to the Martín García island, placed in the middle of the River Plate, halfway Argentina and Uruguay.

Back in Buenos Aires she worked as dressmaker and began to sing tangos as an amateur.

Francisco Canaro tells us in his Memorias that one evening at the Boite Pigalle, he was approached by a young girl who wanted to sing. He says that she was a «brunette in splendid youth», so he gladly gave her the opportunity to make a short rehearsal during the intermission, without even knowing her name, then he introduced her as Azabache and she sang two tunes.

Because of her participation as singer in small parts at the Teatro Apolo a friend invited her to a party where the pianist Enrique Delfino was playing. He heard her singing, and pleasantly impressed, introduced her to the teatro Nacional owner the next day.

Her professional career started there, she made her début at a play by Alberto Vaccarezza and sang the tango “Padre nuestro” achieving an immediate response by the public, who requested her five encores of that piece.

Her success followed on radio, on disc and at other theater plays, so reaching her final consecration.

In 1928 she married Juan Scarpino, with whom she had a child who soon died, and later the marriage broke up.

In 1929 she joined artistically and sentimentally the violinist Roberto Zerrillo, with whom she toured throughout the country and later they traveled to Spain and Portugal on an important trip and returned in 1932.

On her return she found other female singers occupying the place she had left, among these, Libertad Lamarque —who had been her friend and responsible for her nickname La Ñata Gaucha—, Mercedes Simone, Ada Falcón and Tita Merello.

Alone and with her own effort, she managed to come into spotlight again, until being part of the cast for the movie Tango, where she sang the tango “La canción de Buenos Aires”, the “Milonga del novecientos”, and with the accompaniment of Juan de Dios Filiberto´s orchestra, the tango “Botines viejos”.

She enjoyed success again and was included in films, always as singer, in the movie Monte criollo and later in Nativa, where she also sang and took part as actress in an anodyne role.

But in 1936 she underwent a new love and financial frustration. Her new couple and artistic manager committed suicide when it came to light that he had cheated her.

This incident temporarily drifted her into obscurity,but afterwards when the details were disclosed, she re-established herself in the public eye.

One month later she appeared in the final scene at a theater play achieving an outstanding success, the room was full and the audience were mostly women touched by her recent disgrace.

In 1938 she made a long tour of the United States, and for the Spanish speaking community she shot the movie Di que me quieres whose musical direction was in charge of Terig Tucci, who had conducted the orchestral accompaniment to Carlos Gardel on his films.

In the 40s she entered a decline, her presence weakens, however, she made some recordings, tours and local performances, but her name already belonged to the past.
In 1966 she had a stroke and she died almost forgotten on January 15, 1970.

Her most known and successful composition is the tango “Pero yo sé”, recorded by numerous artists, and it is worthmentioning Ángel Vargas' rendition with Ángel D'Agostino's orchestra.

She was a good friend of Carlos Gardel's. They met in 1923 and he recorded her tango “La canción de Buenos Aires”, made in collaboration with Orestes Cúfaro and Manuel Romero.

Among her outstanding works we have the waltz “Pensando en ti” with lyrics by Celedonio Flores and “Decí que sí [b]”, a very well known ranchera which she wrote with Cúfaro and Alberto Pidemunt.

Her output is more than 270 recordings. Between 1923 and 1926 she was accompanied by Francisco Canaro orchestra. Subsequently, always for Odeon label, she was accompanied on piano by Enrique Delfino and the guitarist Manuel Parada.
Between 1929 and 1931, then for Brunswick label she recorded with the accompaniment of the violinist Roberto Zerrillo, on piano Orestes Cúfaro and Manuel Parada, guitar. On some of these numbers the violinist Antonio Rodio is featured.

Undoubtedly Azucena Maizani was a pioneer and one of the greatest female singers in the genre, her tragedy is revealed, not only in her life and work, but also in the miserable end of her last days.