Carlos Dante

Real name: Testori, Carlos Dante
Singer and composer
(12 March 1906 - 28 April 1985)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Luis Adolfo Sierra

eneration of the forties has been called a brilliant promotion of interpreters, composers and poets that by then reached the peak of a prestigious artistic career, together with a number of authentic young values who were regarded as promising appearances supported by relevant aptitudes to project themselves towards consecration. The former ones and the latter constituted that tango phalanx which meant the most important cycle of tango song.

Cabarets and night ballrooms, the overcrowded dances at the sports clubs, radio stations, records, were the vehicles of the great musical attraction of those memorable years in the forties. Orchestras and singers were responsible for hits, complete repertories, and strengthened numbers and names that remained forever.

And among those most representative winners, at that very important period of the boom of our tango to be danced, to be sung and to be listened to, we find the name of Carlos Dante Testori, who, getting rid of his Italian surname, adopted Carlos Dante, simply his two Christian names, as the artistic nickname which would lead him to a deserved popularity at a second period, let us say, of his professional career.

Carlos Dante, a very personal intimate singer in our tango, died on a Sunday on April 28, 1985, when he was just eighty, after a career which was followed by a lot of fans and after having deservedly occupied a place among the most outstanding interpreters of our city music.

He was born on April 18, 1905, in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Boedo. He was brought up in a humble home of honest working people. Like so many other kids of the period, he was anxiously awaiting Sundays to go out to play soccer on the vacant plots of land in Villa Dominico, and the sunsets in the neighborhood, leaning on the window pane of the grocery store round the corner —like in Homero Manzi's lyrics—, whistling and humming tangos.

He studied and worked as an apprentice at a workshop, when a friend of his father´s, noticing the vocal conditions of the young boy, connected him to a professional theater group. Then his great opportunity to professionally debut as singer of the Francisco Pracánico orchestra, on the opening evening of the Astral cinema on August 16, 1927, on Corrientes street, now Teatro Astral.

He got experience in interpretation with the already prestigious pianist and composer of “Sombras” and “Madre”. Soon after splitting with Pracánico, the lead bandoneon of the orchestra, Miguel Caló, when he tried his luck as leader, invited Carlos Dante, then definitively belonging to the professional activity of tango, to join him.

In 1928, when Carlos Dante's name was known in the music environment, as refrain singer he joined the orchestra of Anselmo Aieta, in which Juan D'Arienzo and Luis Visca, were as well members, as instrumentalists; it had a resounding performance at the Hindú cinema theater placed on Lavalle street. When the contract signed between that orchestra and the above mentioned cinema theater expired, the enterprise Coll y Di Fiore hired the singer Carlos Dante to include him in the debutant and unforgettable orchestra led by Pedro Maffia —that mythological sextet with Vardaro, Pugliese, De Franco— and to allow him to go on with his successful performance on the stage of the cine Hindú.

He made his debut on record as vocalist of the brand-new first orchestra of Juan D'Arienzo —who had not yet adopted the distorted rhythmic style that later launched him into popularity—, by committing to disc a series of versions for the Electra label, whose surviving recordings represent one of the greatest attractions for record collectors today.

And from there to Europe. He traveled to France with Rafael Canaro. Four years in Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, Athens. Carlitos told us that at the end of his performance, one evening at El Garrón in Montmartre, with Manuel Pizarro's orchestra, a distinguished gentleman approached him, telling him in a correct Spanish: «I listened to you with much attention. You are an excellent tango singer. Never change your way of singing. Tango has to be said, it needs not shouting.»

That distinguished gentleman was the famous baritone of Italian bel canto of all times. His name was Titta Ruffo. And Carlitos Dante achieved a renowned prestige by always singing that way, almost mezza voce, always, throughout the long artistic journey of his prolonged career.

He came back to Buenos Aires and he went on with his activity. He played and recorded discs temporarily with Francisco Canaro. He joined Miguel Caló again, as he had done in the early 1927. Cabarets, radios, records. And suddenly, a prolonged break that seemed definitive. He entered the Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales enterprise under a very favorable contract, with an excellent perspective for an advantageous business career.

But tango called him again. Carlitos Dante's return to artistic activity took place on October 1, 1944 at the café Marzotto on Corrientes street, with El Colorado De Angelis. He replaced Floreal Ruiz, who, as well, would take the seat left by Fiorentino at Aníbal Troilo's orchestra.

Before that happy comeback to tango, Dante had joined the orchestra of Elvino Vardaro, for the national film Muchacho de la ciudad, singing a complete interpretation of the tango Ciudad. Due to Agustín Irusta's suggestion, he teamed up a duo with Pedro Noda, when the latter split with Agustín Magaldi. And he was launched to consecration with Alfredo De Angelis, as it has already been said. His always remembered big hits were: “La brisa”, “Mocosita”, “Lunes”, “Melenita de oro”, “Ya estamos iguales”, “Soy un arlequín”, “Carnaval”.

Ten years at that unforgettable daily program Glostora Tango Club, broadcasted through Radio El Mundo. Thirteen years with De Angelis: Dante's best years. In 1957, the singer split, to form a duo with Oscar Larroca. The new artistic unit did not last much. Maybe he was tired of so many years of singing tangos as they ought to be sung.

Communication Nº 1086 by the Academia Porteña del Lunfardo.