Hugo Duval

Real name: Giurbino, Luciano Hugo
(13 December 1928 - 22 August 2003)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Abel Palermo

his singer born in Buenos Aires, owner of a beautiful voice, used to perform with a personal phrasing and, also, he knew how to express with a sober dramatism what the piece so demanded. Nearly all his show business career was linked to maestro Rodolfo Biagi with whom he achieved his most outstanding hits.

Since an early age he had a passion for tango and a deep admiration for singers. Encouraged by a friend, he went to the conservatory headed by maestro Eduardo Bonessi. When the latter heard him he praised his capabilities but he also suggested him to study. Luciano accepted immediately this piece of advice and, at once, he become a student of the conservatory.

When he was 17 he began his appearances at different shows in the neighborhoods and after 1948 at the cinema theaters, in the so-called «números vivos» (live shows). A space for the artists created by a national law that forced the cinema owners to present singers, musicians, comic actors, jugglers and different kinds of art forms during the intermissions.

At the same time, he appeared at all the contests for singers that the tearooms with shows customarily made. At one of them the violinist Raúl Kaplún heard him and invited him to join his orchestra. He made his debut on Radio Belgrano alongside the young Roberto Goyeneche. Regrettably, of this Kaplún’s stage with Goyeneche and Duval on vocals there are no recordings left.

After the carnival balls of 1950 the singers Alberto Amor and Carlos Saavedra split with the Rodolfo Biagi’s orchestra. They were replaced by Carlos Heredia who had been vocalist in the Gobbi Orchestra and by Hugo Duval, now with his definitive sobriquet.

On September 13 that year he made his debut on record singing a duet with Carlos Heredia: Feliciano Brunelli’s and Lito Bayardo’s waltz “Serenata campera”. The vocalists stayed together until 1953. Later Hugo remained as the only vocalist of Biagi up to 1962.

It turns out curious but it was due to Duval’s popularity, that out of the 20 numbers that the orchestra recorded for Odeon, thirteen were with the singer, including two duos with Heredia. The latter recorded as soloist two numbers and the other five the orchestra recorded are instrumentals. One of the greatest hits was “Bailarina de tango”, which was followed by: “Sangre de mi sangre”, “Triste comedia”, “Santa milonguita” and the waltz “Adoración”.

In March 1956, after eighteen years, Biagi split with Odeon. His last two recordings were the instrumental “Organito de la tarde” and, with Duval on vocals, “Alguien”.

By the end of August that same year the team Biagi-Duval cut the waltz “Ramona” and the tango “El carrerito” for CBS-Columbia, their new company. Later twenty recordings more were released, from which eighteen were with Hugo on vocals. The following stood out: “Espérame en el cielo”, “Como un cuento”, “Mi alondra” and “Andrajos”.

The following year the singer Carlos Almagro joined the aggregation and the orchestra recorded for Music Hall a long-playing record with 12 numbers. And the singer achieved another hit, his splendid rendition of “Mariposita”.

In the seventies, very difficult years for tango, despite he was tempted to follow his career as soloist, Duval stayed with the orchestra leader until his last show, on August 2, 1969, at the ball made at the Club Hurlingham, of the province of Buenos Aires, a month before Biagi’s death.

Later he continued as soloist making tours and appearing on television. He also recorded a cassette accompanied by the Group Don Rodolfo, an outfit reminiscent of the great Manos Brujas.

As Jorge Palacio says, Hugo Duval and Jorge Ortiz were the emblematic vocalists of Rodolfo Biagi. Furthermore, they were those who recorded the greatest numbers of pieces with him.

The last time I had the privilege of listening to him was at a festival made as homage to the record collector don Osvaldo Castillón on September 7, 1980, at the headquarters of the firemen of La Ma