The Canaro’s musicals (First part)
is first attempt in the genre was only as composer. It was in 1919 at the Teatro Variedades located on Lima Street in the neighborhood of Constitución. The lyrics were written by Juan Andrés Caruso. The play was entitled “Nobleza de arrabal” for which Canaro composed the tango with the same name. The theater company that performed the one-act farce was led by the actor Felipe Panigazzi. Later would come:
La muchachada del centro (1932). Thirteen years had to pass since then before his successful career in theater would start. Here are now the Ivo Pelay’s scripts. And his musicians, either on the stage or in the pit, carried out a preponderant mission. The premiere was on June 17 at the Teatro Nacional (the one that still exists on 960 Corrientes Avenue). The main actors were Tita Merello, Elsa O'Connor, Sara Prósperi, Amanda Las Heras, Tito Lusiardo, Francisco Álvarez, Héctor Calcagno, Eduardo Sandrini, Juan Sarcione, Domingo Conte and Abelardo Farías (Dringue’s brother), the leading actor and singer was a good-looking boy that died at a very young age and sang in a duo with Amanda Las Heras the waltz “El jardín del amor” and the tango “Rosa de amor” (based on a motif of the tango-fantasia “Halcón Negro”). Another premiere was the tango “Te quiero” sung by Ernesto Famá. The play begins with the march “En la ribera”. It was also on the billboard the following year and it also included the customary tours throughout the interior of the country and Uruguay. Elsa O'Connor replaced Tita Merello several times in the 900 performances of the play.
La canción de los barrios (1934). With libretto by Ivo Pelay, it was premiered on July 17 at the Teatro Sarmiento, today disappeared, which was located on the then Cangallo Street between Carlos Pellegrini and Cerrito. It was a musical comedy that especially featured the singers Ignacio Corsini and Ernesto Famá and included Alicia Vignoli, Manolita Poli, Amanda Falcón, Benita Puértolas, Marcelo Ruggero, Francisco Charmiello, Francisco Álvarez, Miguel Gómez Bao and others. A march that was the title song was premiered sung by the whole company; the ranchera “Los amores con la crisis” was sung by Amanda Falcón; the waltz “Un jardín de ilusión” in a duo by Vignoli and Corsini that also sang the tango “Yo no sé por qué te quiero”; the humorous number “El tango de la mula” was sung by Famá who also sang a number premiered by Canaro in France, “Te quiero”, and the fox-trot “El casamiento no me interesa” and the tango “El tigre Millán”. There were 348 performances that had to be stopped because of a lawsuit. As it was customary they crossed the river to appear in Uruguay. A curiosity of this play was that a contest with new tangos was held and in it the most renowned authors and composers appeared. The new pieces were played during the performances. The first winner was Francisco Lomuto with his tango “Churrasquita”.
Rascacielos (1935). Again with libretto by Ivo Pelay at the Teatro Sarmiento that had already solved its problems. It opened on June 26. The cast spotlighted Paquita Garzón, María Esther Gamas, Margarita Padín, Teresita Garzón, José Ramírez, Héctor Calcaño, Vicente Climent, Oscar Villa, Dringue Farías and Ernesto Famá. Canaro premiered the march “Mi Buenos Aires”, the tango “Casas viejas” that Famá sang, the waltz “Tú y yo”, the tango “Coplas porteñas” and an anodyne rhythmical piece entitled “Tangón”, today forgotten, danced by the choreographer Manuel Silva and Teresita Padrón. Towards the end of the play Miguel Bucino, a close friend and Pirincho’s collaborator, displayed his ability as dancer.
La patria del tango (1936). Canaro’s intention in this play is highligting what he called “the national spirit”. His first idea was presenting this play in Spain to show the feeling of the Argentine people through music but it was finally frustrated because of the civil war. He summoned José González Castillo to write the libretto and the latter also asked the collaboration of Antonio Botta and Luis César Amadori. The premiere was at the Teatro Buenos Aires located opposite the Sarmiento, both demolished when the Avenida 9 de Julio was widened. Among the big cast Paquita Garzón, María Esther Gamas, Margarita Padín, Severo Fernández, Agustín Irusta, Roberto Fugazot and Oscar Villa (Villita) were highlighted. In the last scene, with the orchestra onstage, Roberto Maida sang, and Miguel Bucino and María Esther Gamas danced a tango and a milonga. Several pieces are premiered: “La marcha cordial”, the waltz “Cariño” sung by Garzón along with Fugazot and Irusta, the ranchera “El bichito del amor” sung by Gamas, “Qué le importa al mundo” sung by Fugazot, a new tangón “El porteño”, danced by Mario Faig and Teresita Padrón, “La polca del espiante”, “Como te quiero” with Irusta on vocals and, finally, “Estampa gaucha”, a pericón danced by the whole company. As interlude a medley of several melodies was played. There were 500 performances and tours of the country and Uruguay.
Mal de amores (1937). Again with Pelay’s script it was presented at the Teatro Politeama located on the corner of Corrientes and Paraná, a theater now disappeared. This was one of the least successful theatrical plays in Canaro’s career. Members of the cast were Paquita Garzón, Agustín Irusta, Roberto Fugazot and Ángel Magaña, among others. However 250 performances were made. When it was billed out it was taken to Uruguay but there it did not reach acclaim at all either. In his memoirs he hardly mentions this failure.
El muchacho de la orquesta (1939). After a one-year break he returned to the stage of the Teatro Nacional with a plot by Pelay and his own music. The cast included Pepita Muñoz, Élida Lacroix, actress and singer, several girls more and, among the men: León Zárate, Carlos Enríquez, Oscar Villa, Cayetano Biondo, the dancing partners Padrón and Bucino and the singers Ernesto Famá and Francisco Amor. The musicians included Minotto Di Cicco, as featured musician, and two pianists, the customary player, until then, Luis Riccardi and Mariano Mores who joined the orchestra for some months and stayed for nine years. Canaro composed “La milonga de Buenos Aires”, the waltz “Porque sí”, the ranchera “Dónde hay un novio”, “La polca del casamiento”, the symphonic tango “El rey del bosque”, the gaucho march “Los parias”, the tango song “Todo te nombra”, the comic song “Las promesas del amor”, the descriptive folk music “Sinfonía gaucha”, the stylized gato “Esa es mi patria”, the tango-milonga “Yo nací para querer” and the estilo “Sublevación”. As usual there were tours and a voyage to Uruguay.
La historia del tango (1941). Again at the Teatro Nacional and Ivo Pelay is author of the book. The cast included, among others, Elsa O’Connor, Marcelo Ruggero, Mario Danesi, Lalo Malcolm, Tomás Hartich, Carlos Enríquez, the singers Ernesto Famá, Francisco Amor and Myrna Mores, Marianito’s fiancée, the dancers “El Cachafaz” and Carmen Calderón. Amor impersonated Ángel Villoldo’s character and sang the waltz “Bajo el cielo azul”. Famá performed “El recuerdo de los tangos” and, in a duo with Myrna Mores, “Apasionadamente”. The latter as soloist sang: “Nocturno a Rosario”. For the occasion Canaro put together a medley with tangos of the early days to justify the title of the play.