Rosita Montemar

Real name: Spruk, Rosa
(30 April 1910 - 16 February 1976)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Julio Nudler
| Néstor Pinsón

osita had a short show business career, shorter than the ones of many tango female singers, but she was who sang the tango “Recuerdo” with lyrics by Eduardo Moreno for the first time. It was publicly known after her recording in 1927 backed by the staff orchestra of the Victor label.

This event, not so important at that time, was becoming interesting with the passing of time while “Recuerdo” was achieving the category of a classic. A great number of groups included it in their repertories, with arrangements that stressed even more its melodic line. So mostly were instrumentals, while the renditions with singer were the exception. Let us remember the one by the vocalist Roberto Díaz and the one by Jorge Maciel with the Pugliese’s orchestra. But the latter ones had had a greater recognition; instead many had wondered about Rosita Montemar. Who was she? Which were her antecedents in the arts and in her life?

Sebastián Piana was Rosita’s pianist, her friend, her singing teacher. With him she rehearsed in her parents’ house in the neighborhood of Villa Crespo, on Camargo 231, which later was owned by a coach of the Atlanta club. The latter transformed the house into a gymnasium. He was ahead of his times; his name was Adolfo Mogilevsky. Rosita’s father died when she was eight and her mother married again.

Before her adolescence she joined the theatrical company headed by the actress Angelina Pagano. Dressed as a criolla and with braided hair, she danced the pericón, a native dance. Due to a fortuitous circumstance she was asked to appear onstage to sing something in order to entertain the audience. They knew she was good at it. And she did it successfully. Then she went on with it.

But she liked acting and so she appeared on Radio Brusa, at the old Teatro San Martín on Esmeralda Street, demolished when «un juego de calles se dio en diagonal». Also at the Teatro Soleil on Corrientes Street, in her neighborhood, where the shows were continued and in Yiddish, a language she hardly spoke. But that ignorance resulted in a greater hilarity in the comic sketches she performed. When somebody asked her why she had recorded so few things she answered that her voice was not caught well in those early recordings.

Some people say that she cut eight numbers —four discs— but the truth is that we know exactly of the half of it: “Recuerdo”, “Gloria [b]”, “Copacabana (Nido de amor)” and “Chiche”.

She owned a poised voice timbre, good intonation and an outstanding expressiveness. Her performances were warmly acclaimed by audiences. Like in 1931, when the Caras y Caretas magazine organized a contest at the Teatro Colón to choose the queen of tango. The winner was Libertad Lamarque, but she reached the second place and was nominated «princess».

Eduardo Moreno came to know her after she recorded “Recuerdo”. He liked her rendition but he was bothered by a slight change in the lyric. She said: «Ayer cantaron los poetas» instead of: «Ayer cantaron poetas». He also recalled that their first encounter was at a festival in the locality of Lanús, where she was accompanied by the orchestra led by José Di Clemente, the author of “Sufran otarios”.

In 1938 her marriage with Alfredo Bonomi made her quit singing for good. This boy, a year older than she, had acquainted her when she was only thirteen. Her father-in-law, a well-to-do man, was owner of an important enterprise that manufactured liquors. There the, at its time, famous Amaro Monte Cúdine was distilled. It was an aperitif popular among people. Among other ways of advertising, for many years, through the El Gráfico magazine it awarded the best player in the soccer games with a box of the beverage.

The Bonomi family was member of the Jockey Club, they were in the highest levels of our society and his father would have never allowed that his son married a female tango singer. For this reason, her husband did not allow her to make any reference to her past in show-biz.

Rosita accepted everything; she was a Buenos Aires girl, her future husband was good-looking and they were in love. They had five children, they lived together for 37 years until Alfredo's death on May 28, 1975 broke them up. But not for a long time, she died almost nine months later.

José Gobello was in touch with her until her last days and, in a note about her, he says that Piana commented to him that it was Rosita the one who imposed the first of his famous milongas: “Milonga sentimental” at a show staged at the Teatro San Martín, organized by La Voz del Aire Radio station. Then she was backed by the Pedro Maffia's orchestra. With the latter she also sang “Ventarrón”.

He added that he met her at Rosita Quiroga's place in 1975. She told him that she only kept her memories. She had neither any of her records nor a single clipping or a photograph of that stage of her life. When he suggested organizing an event to pay homage to her, but in fact it was a pretext so that she would tell her experiences as female singer, she liked the proposal -she was already a widow- but she answered that it would not be possible: «I promised my husband that after our marriage I would never return to a stage. If I'd do it now, even though just to tell you things I think I would not be behaving loyally».

And added Gobello: «Soon thereafter I found the sheet music of the tango “Chiche” with her photo on the cover. When I tried to see her to offer that as a gift; it was not possible. Death came all of a sudden with no warning. I keep the memory of a lady with finesse, so pleasant, quite modest and with a good memory, who awoke in me a very deep affection, or rather a warm fondness».