Gaspar Astarita

Verri - Orlando Verri tells us about his career

his porteño born in Buenos Aires, in the neighborhood of Villa Urquiza, was a melodic tenor, but not lacking in stamina, of a delicate way of saying and a pleasant phrasing. He was the archetypical vocalist in the orchestras of the 40s and 50s. He had the ductility of making changes of nuances when necessary, when the other vocalist imposed his temper and he was ideal, also, to fit the possible duets. Orlando Verri was with Maderna, but he might have been as well suitable for the orchestras led by Fresedo, Miguel Caló or even Troilo. He died in Posadas, Misiones, where he finally was based, surrounded by his wife and children. In his latter years he was contributor to the newspaper El Territorio of that province.

«When the revolution of September 1930 took place we lived near the Military School, in San Martín, and when my old folks saw that things were going worse they fled with their two children and returned to their native neighborhood. But I, like a mail package, went a little bit further, to the neighborhood of Constitución, to the house of my dad's sister that was married with that stupendous guitarist that was Miguel Correa and who together with Vicente Spina, the author of the waltz “Tu olvido”, used to accompany the great figures of popular song of the the time : Rosita Quiroga, Corsini, Charlo... these and other also very well-known, I saw them coming daily to the house and so I was learning their repertoires by heart. I quietly listened to their rehearsals.

«One of those days, by chance, my uncle found out that I have «ear» and made me sing; and wow! he was so much excited that he already talked of my presentation in a festival. It was on August 6, 1931, I was eight years old, they dressed me like a tough guy or whatever, with a hat, neckerchief, long trousers. It was at the Teatro París on Suipacha between Bartolomé Mitré and Cangallo (today Tte. Gral. Perón). I sang several tangos, the first two were “Mandria” and “Noche de reyes". It was a hit, and since then I had the unconditional support of the whole family.

«My aunt, Correa's wife, persuaded my parents to send me to a singing instructor. They should take advantage of my ear. In my own neighborhood they found him in his conservatory-barber's shop, he was Cayetano Tomaselli. With him two boys friends of mine, and colleagues, studied. They turned out to be Roberto Florio and Jorge Casal.

«I finished my elementary studies in the school located on Cullen and Triunvirato. Every year it became a habit that on the days of celebration in school Orlando Verri sang “Lamento borincano”, it was the favorite number for everybody. I didn't go to high school. Those were difficult times and it was necessary to bring some money to the household and so I began to work.

«I continued singing. In 1937 I had some presentations on LS6 Radio Del Pueblo, accompanied by three guitarists. Later I dared to everything, festivals in the neighborhoods and those kinds of things. By the late 1940 the orchestra of my neighborhood led by José Nozzi (that also played jazz and pop) included me as its singer. It was an honor for me then. Julio De Caro's “El malevo” was my favorite tune then.

«Three years passed. The time for military service was coming and I was appearing in the basement of the Teatro Smart (today, Blanca Podestá) where there was a memorable venue. There Alberto Mastra listened to me and began to call me Pajarito (Little bird) and he included me in a new trio, one of the many ones that he put together to appear on radio stations. In fact it was a quartet, because he was on guitar, sometimes he sang, Eduardo Márquez (who had sung with Adolfo Pérez Pocholo and with his brothers-in-law: the Sureda brothers) as vocalist and guitarist, Beatriz Loana and I. We performed at the Teatro Apolo. It was then when Marsilio Robles, a great guitarist told Troilo that there was a kid with Mastra that sang wonderfully. He was looking for a replacement for Fiorentino. He then only had Marino.

«It was all so quickly and I was like mad, I was only 20. I rehearsed in Robles's mom's place and this way, we made my songbook. When everything was ready, Marino succeeded in placing Floreal Ruiz that was with De Angelis. With the passing of time, every time I met Marino he apologized for having spoiled my chance. But that belongs to the past.

«In the late 44 the Miguel Caló's orchestra disbanded. Francini-Pontier on one side, Domingo Federico on another, Ariel Pedernera with his quintet and Osmar Maderna on his. The latter formed his group and organized at the Marzotto café a contest for singers. I won it. I arrived at the final with Hugo Soler. The last day I sang “Pregonera”.

«Radio El Mundo, recordings, shows, tours. I had as partners, firstly Luis Tolosa and later, Pedro Dátila. It was a five-year tenure with Osmar. At that stage I parallelly discovered a new facet, I am a good salesman, and I joined the Olivetti typewriter company. Because of that I could no longer keep the pace of the night work. But as I didn't want to put aside the artist, a friend of mine, the singer Roberto Medina, author of “Pucherito de gallina”, suggested my name as his substitute in Julio De Caro's orchestra. With the latter I also recorded and worked for two years. And I changed the trading company, I already was salesman for Siam-Di Tella.

«Osmar died, the Orquesta Símbolo was formed and I started with them until the company sent me for 30 days to Posadas, provincia of Misiones, as sales advisor. I stayed for 30 years. I continued singing professionally, also in Paraguay, on radio, television, in different venues, I made radio programs airing tangos, I also collaborate with institutions that need my services non commercially. I try to do something for the associations of pensioners, of blind people and some others. Everything was just for the sake of it. That's all, my career is already fulfilled.»