Virginia Vera

Real name: Borioli, Virginia
Singer, guitarist, composer and actress
(14 April 1898 - 12 April 1949)
Place of birth:
Pavía (Lombardía) Italy
Héctor Ángel Benedetti

irginia was born in Pavía, High Italy and was daughter of Teresa Guallini and Giuseppe Borioli who already had a son. After their father's early death, in 1902, the rest of the family, together with some more relatives, emigrated to Argentina and settled near Herrera Vegas, a small town amid the province of Buenos Aires, located 34 km from Bolívar.

Soon later their mother also died, and then little Virginia was raised by her uncle and aunt, the Roggeros who had settled in Pehuajó. Her aunt and uncle were very concerned about the education of all the kids they were responsible for and they introduced them culturally to music and theater. Aquiles Roggero, a cousin of Virginia's, time later would become one of the most exquisite violinists in tango.

One day in 1914 a criollo circus came to Pehuajó: Tony Lobande's Circus. There Virginia came to know Juan Fabián Vera, manager and occasionally guitarist and composer of gaucho songs. After a quick courtship, on October 17, that same year, the young couple married. Four children were born to this family: José Fabián, Eufemio Luis, Juan Carlos and Alba Teresa.

In 1915 Virginia made her debut as singer of folk songs in a season of the Raffeto Circus, in the town of Azul, adopting for her appearances her husband's last name. Until then she had appeared sporadically as actress but from then on she would alternate this activity with singing, until her numbers as actress began to diminish and the songs, to increase. The female singer Virginia Vera had been born.

Finding her way in the field of art, Virginia went from the circus to the theaters, cinema theaters and tearooms in an upward process that lasted nearly one decade. In this long period of establishing herself she clearly defined her way of singing, strongly influenced by payadores and singers of the interior; at the same time she focused her repertoire on the rural music of Buenos Aires and tango.

Her arrival at the radio scene would take place only in 1927 on LT3 Radio Sociedad Rural de Cerealistas, of Rosario, a city in which she was living since 1926. The following year she moved to the city of Buenos Aires, downtown (Corrientes and Pasteur).

Her first appearance in a Buenos Aires venue was in the Rex cinema-theater, on Córdoba Ave. Since then she appeared at more important locals, accompanying herself or hiring other guitarists (Humberto Canataro, Roberto Pedretti, Alberto Remersaro, Héctor Besada, Hugo Zamora, Guillermo Casella, José Barone…). Parallelly, she didn't stop appearing on almost all the Buenos Aires broadcastings, such as Radio Prieto and LR5 Radio Excelsior, LR9 Radio Fénix, LR4 Radio Splendid and, especially, the radio station that launched her to her best moment, in the mid- thirties, thanks to the radio shows presented by Tito Martínez del Box and sponsored by Federal soap: LR3 Radio Belgrano. She also carried out regular presentations in the provinces, traveling from the Patagonia to the northern territories.

1930 was the beginning of her recording work, when she signed a recording contract with the Columbia label owned by the company Cinema y Música SRL. This female singer was assigned the disc serial numbers A-6.800, beginning with the recording with this number that contains the tango “¿Por qué te has ido?” (beautiful and forgotten tango by Sciammarella and Cadícamo) on its A side and on its B side B, the cifra “Luna gaucha” (with music by her husband Fabián Vera for Supparo’s lyrics).

The Virginia Vera’s serial in the Columbia ended in 1931, with the disc A-6.816, that contains on its A side the tarantella “A Piedigrotta” (by Cipolla and Fernández Blanco) and on its B side, the tango “El precio de un beso”(The price of a kiss) (written by Canataro and Garrido). 34 was the total number of recordings made by Virginia Vera in Columbia.

In 1931 Virginia was in the shooting of some additional scenes for the sound reprise of the Eduardo Martínez de la Pera’s and Ernesto Gunche’s silent film Nobleza gaucha, (1915). This production had achieved an unprecedented success in its time, to such an extent that in the early thirties Luis Moglia Barth was commissioned to make a synchronization of it. For that reason, to the 15 year-old original sequences with Rich Orfilia, Celestino Petray, María Padín and Arturo Mario were added some scenes with songs by Patrocinio Díaz and Virginia. This version with sound was introduced to the public on October 9, 1931.

Exactly the same thing was made in 1932 with Carlos R. De Paoli’s Santos Vega, (1917). It was an old silent film with Ignacio Corsini and Pepe Podestá and, again, Moglia Barth faced its synchronization, adding to it now scenes with songs and dialogues by Virginia, Patrocinio Díaz, Dorita Davis, Raúl Romero and Fedora Cabral. The American Film pictures distributed it in April that year.

On June 28, 1937 she recorded again; in this case for Odeon, cutting the Nº 11.680, as head of the series and Virginia’s only disc as soloist for this company that published the milonga on the A side “Lo que quiero tener”, with her own music for a poem by Gualberto Márquez: “Charrúa” and on the B side, the northern song “El embrujao”(by Suárez and Savastano). By this time she was backed by the guitar group lined up by the brothers Juan, Asencio and Ramón Rodríguez.

Although her singing and her repertoire as “national female singer” did not fit in the prevailing fashion during the forties, Virginia Vera continued to be the choice among the traditionalist circles that respected her interpretive authenticity. But this was not enough to continue recording regularly. Only on December 15, 1944 she returned to Odeon, although only to appear as estribillista (refrain singer) in a recording of Rafael Rossi's group: the waltz “Rosa de otoño”, Barbieri’s and Rial’s piece, singing along with the Casadei brothers.

An important facet in the Virginia’s career was her work as composer. She left pieces like “Amanecer” (milonga), “De mi tierra [c]” (cifra), “El lagarto” (estilo), “El mate” (milonga), “Idilio gaucho” (ranchera), “La cautiva del Paraná” (habanera), “Lo que quiero tener” (milonga), “Madre [b]” (estilo), “Memorias a Carlitos Gardel” (milonga), “Paraguaya yo te quiero” (Paraguayan song), “Por la razón o la juerza” (ranchera).

In 1947, the direction of the Archivo General de la Nación (General Record Office of the Nation) asked her to file two private recordings there, because it was considered of supreme importance that the female singer would leave a testimony of her interpretive style in recordings for public reference. This attitude, totally uncommon, made that in that year Virginia Vera recorded an acetate disc accompanying herself on guitar. So she left for this institution the estilo “Guitarra [b]” (by Irusta and Bigeschi) and the cifra “De mi tierra [c]”, with her own music and lyrics by Luis García Morel.

But soon later she got seriously ill, being forced to cease all her artistic activity in February 1949. She died in April and the guard over her corpse was kept at the headquarters of the Círculo Tradicionalista Leales y Pampeanos. She was patroness of that circle.