Néstor Pinsón

Aníbal Troilo and his appearances in the movies and at theater

ichuco’s appearance in the movies and at theater is not an unexpected occurrence because since he was eleven years old he had been frequenting public exposure. He started as a soloist in the cinema theater of his neighborhood, the Petit Colón on the corner of Córdoba and Laprida. He passed through the ranks of different orchestras in which he was acquiring experience. And, as from 1937 when he leads his own orchestra, he does not change his habits, he goes on playing live either at cabarets or at neighboring clubs. His continuous performances made him achieve a great number of admirers. Soon the radio was added and it would have an important role in his career. But the foremost thing that placed him in the great history of tango were his recordings: 485 recordings from 1937 to 1970. Because of that I thought it was interesting to write a brief review of this side of his career, his cinematographic and theatrical work:

Los tres berretines: was premiered on May 19, 1933. A few days after Tango (regarded as the first Argentine sound movie with the optical system) was released. Although Enrique Telémaco Susini is credited as director, the responsible ones were the boys who founded Lumiton pictures. They were the same who years before were connected with the birth of our radio broadcasting. The film posed a simple plot that portrayed the three passions of the Buenos Aires people: tango, soccer and horse racing. The chapter about tango is in charge of the actor Luis Sandrini who, throughout the movie, whistles a melody that he finally succeeds in finishing. Later a musician, at a cafe, transcribes it to a music staff and a hungry poet writes a lyric for a coffee with milk in exchange. His expectation is premiering it at the same venue and it comes true on the little stage where the Foccile-Marafiotti orchestra is announced. In fact, the players there are José María Rizzuti (piano), Vicente Tagliacozzo (violin) and an eighteen-year-old Aníbal Troilo. A singer also appears: Luis Díaz, and the tango at issue is “Araca la cana”.

Radio Bar: directed by Manuel Romero was premiered on September 10, 1936. Here (Gordo) Fat’s presence is not different to the previous one. The film is merely a parade of the distinguished names of our early radio artists. Among the people starred we find the Elvino Vardaro’s orchestra with his two bandoneonists, Eduardo Marino and Aníbal Troilo.

Muchachos de la ciudad: premiered on May 13, 1937 and directed by José Ferreyra. Like in the previous one, Troilo is sideman in the Vardaro’s aggregation. From the start, while the titles are shown on the screen, “Ciudad”, a marching song sung by a choir and the vocalist Carlos Dante, is heard. The musicians are seen while they accompany Herminia Franco in “Así es el tango”. By the time the movie was premiered Troilo already had his own orchestra.

El tango vuelve a París: directed by Manuel Romero, it was premiered on January 16, 1948. This motion picture is the best that takes advantage of Troilo’s figure. We may say that he and some members of his orchestra are starred as actors. A group of friends, headed by Alberto Castillo, tries to impose tango again in that country. Different circumstances create the space necessary for the appearance of the tangos that showcase the singer: “Ninguna”, “Griseta”, “Muñeca brava”, “Nubes de humo(Fume compadre)”, “La canción de Buenos Aires”. The renowned Mexican female singer Elvira Ríos, so much mimicked by the humorists of that time, is also spotlighted.

Mi noche triste: was the first premiere of the year (January 3, 1952), directed by Lucas Demare. It was a fictional version about Pascual Contursi’s life. Troilo appears with his orchestra playing the background music composed by Lucio Demare. He also plays “Mi noche triste (Lita)” that in the movie is sung by the actor Jorge Salcedo (dubbed by Oscar Alonso), “Ventanita de arrabal” and an excerpt of “Que querés con esa cara” (dubbed by Jorge Casal) and also some bars of “El porteñito”.

Vida nocturna: directed by Leo Fleider and premiered on March 18, 1955. The scene is set at a cabaret where the musical numbers are interspersed with the plot. It has a very important cast and Pichuco’s orchestra with Jorge Casal play “La cantina”. Later, as instrumentals, “La trampera” and, a bandoneon and guitar duo with Troilo and Edmundo Porteño Zaldivar, “Palomita blanca”.

Buenas noches Buenos Aires: directed by Hugo del Carril, turned out a new musical parade with the outstanding figures of the time. Male and female singers of tango, folk music and pop music were starred. It was premiered in a large number of theaters in the city on October 1, 1964. In the movie, the Cuarteto Troilo-Grela plays “Mi noche triste”.

Esta es mi Argentina: ten years later the formula is repeated, Leo Fleider as director and a musical caravan, this time of a lower level than the previous ones. It was premiered on May 2, 1974. Troilo, on this occasion, appears with his full orchestra playing “Quejas de bandoneón”.

There were eight appearances in 41 years, and it would be nice that someone may release them all in a DVD.

At theater he appeared in:
El patio de la morocha: a play premiered on April 24, 1953 at the now Teatro Alvear, then called Enrique Santos Discépolo. It was a musical farce in the old style, with over 20 actors directed by Román Viñoly Barreto. Troilo, musical director, presented a large orchestra with 30 players and the vocalists Jorge Casal, Agustín Irusta, Aída Luz and Raúl Berón. The charts were scored by Astor Piazzolla and the script and the lyrics were written by Cátulo Castillo. For this occasion Troilo composed “La retrechera”, a habanera meant to showcase Aída Luz, who later with another orchestra recorded it and “Patio mío” in 1954. In this show Agustín Irusta premiered “Una canción”. Other numbers of the play are: “Vuelve la serenata”, sung as a duo by Casal and Berón, and “ Milonga que manda truco”, by the same duo. The latter was in the songbook of the orchestra but was not recorded. It was a boom that lasted for two seasons with 500 performances. It’s worth mentioning a special circumstance. In one scene Pichuco was impersonating Eduardo Arolas and was backed by the guitarist Roberto Grela playing “La cachila”. The audience gave them an ovation and asked for encores. They had to reprise the tango piece a couple of times because it was the only number they had rehearsed. That hit was the origin of the Cuarteto Troilo-Grela, also comprised by Edmundo Porteño Zaldivar (bass guitar) and Quicho Díaz (double bass).

Caramelos surtidos: premiered at the same theater of the previous one, on August 11, 1960. The original script belongs to Discépolo but adapted to the pretentions of the producer. It was performed by the Luis Arata theater company directed by Marcelo Lavalle, with many actors and 59 people on stage, despite the original play only had 28. The music had many numbers, among them the Cuarteto Troilo-Grela with Jorge Casal, Roberto Goyeneche and Elba Berón singing: “Y a mi qué”, (Elba Berón) and “Coplas, (Goyeneche-Casal duo). The critics were severe and the play was a failure, it only lasted a month and a half.

Tango en el Odeón: alluded to the beautiful theater on 376 Esmeralda Street, now disappeared. It was premiered on September 18, 1963. The script was by Cátulo Castillo and Jorge Montes. Rather poor. A series of tango phrases and poses to justify the music numbers to follow. Also were starred Horacio Salgán, Ubaldo De Lío, Roberto Grela and Ciriaco Ortiz, the dancing team Julia and Lalo Bello and as lead actor, Rodolfo Bebán. Troilo had a 16-piece orchestra with the singers Roberto Rufino, Nelly Vázquez and Tito Reyes. And Edmundo Rivero as special guest artist.

Troilo 69: on April 16, 1969 this show was premiered, curiously, at a cinema-theater of La Boca. A brief script and a new musical parade. Troilo appeared with his quartet along with Ubaldo De Lío, José Colángelo and Rafael Del Bagno. The singers were Enrique Dumas, Tito Reyes, Alberto Marino and Ruth Durante. Juan Carlos Copes and María Nieves also appeared along with the Tango ballet.

Simplemente Pichuco: was premiered on April 3, 1975 at the Teatro Odeón. The show was an idea of Horacio Ferrer, author of the texts. The choreographers were Juan Carlos Copes and María Nieves. The actor Juan Carlos Palma recited convincingly Ferrer’s poems entitled: “Payada con luciérnagas”, “Romance de yira niebla”, “Navidad en el Abasto”. The female singer Alba Solís sang “Una canción”, “Romance de barrio”, “María”, and the last Troilo’s singer, Roberto Achával interpreted “Malevo” and “Con mi perro”. As guest artist was Edmundo Rivero. Pichuco appeared with his quartet and his orchestra. The play had no acclaim. My beloved friend Nito Farace told me: «Very few people came to see us and the Gordo was discouraged and was not in the mood to go on!».

And then, in the wee small hours of the morning after the show, about a month after its premiere, Pichuco died.