Nito Farace

A box office hit: «El patio de la Morocha»

irector’s Note: Many years have passed after the premiere of this theatrical staging. Tango with its so rich story has offered pieces and shows of the genre that were landmarks like “El patio de la Morocha” which for many meant the end of the “belle époque”, but we must take into account that some years later in the same venue, Francisco Canaro presented his “Tangolandia” and, then yes, all the things that came afterwards were frayed parodies of the past time. There were two seasons with over 500 performances at the Teatro Enrique Discépolo, now Presidente Alvear, on 1600 Corrientes Avenue. Nito Farace, who was alongside Troilo until his last appearance at the Teatro Odeón, when Death was already stalking the latter, recalls some features and different aspects of those two seasons.

«Throughout my long career, having participated in this play means for me one of the most touching memories. Besides the assurance provided by its authors, Cátulo Castillo and Aníbal Troilo, a 31-piece orchestra was added: the orchestra led by Pichuco was reinforced by other outstanding instrumentalists, plus four vocalists and choir. The general direction was in charge of the movie director Román Viñoly Barreto. The main orchestrations were written by Astor Piazzolla, there was also a milonga that Ismael Spitalnik orchestrated. The opening took place on April 24, 1953. The cast of the main actors and actresses was the following: Pierina Dealessi, Mario Danesi, Aída Luz, Agustín Irusta, Pedro Maratea, René Cossa, Ángeles Martínez, Marcelle Marcell, Eduardo Santalla, Inés Murray, Eduardo de Labar, Jorge de la Riestra, Vicente Forastieri, and the singers Raúl Berón and Jorge Casal.

«The show started with an overture written by Troilo and Piazzolla which, unfortunately, was never recorded, played by the whole orchestra in a bandbox that nearly reached the stage level. The duet with Troilo, in the role of Eduardo Arolas and Roberto Grela, as Pacífico Taboada, was an outstanding team. They played “La cachila” to great public acclaim so much so that there they had the idea which later blossomed into the Cuarteto Troilo-Grela, a wise choice for the history of tango. After the overture, the scene was darkened and a beam of light and a smoke effect highlighted the left of the stage where there was an old man played by Jorge de la Riestra who personified “El recuerdo” (The memory), who narrated the events that had happened at the tenement house at the beginning of each act, and then actors and musicians appeared onstage to be showcased on the famous courtyard. Troilo and Grela embodied the role of guests at those meetings and “La Morocha” was Aída Luz. Casal y Berón sang part of the regular repertoire of the Troilo orchestra and in this play they premiered the “Milonga del mayoral”, which was a great hit. The passing of time has diluted the part of prominence that also had the very good female vocal quartet that was the choir in the show. Curiously, all these girls united their lives to musicians who appeared in the play. The most well-known of them was Laura Escalada who, many years later, became the last Astor Piazzolla’s wife.

«The comedy, divided into 24 scenes, had the merit of showing the recognized work of the actors, but especially the task of the musicians with classical training who adapted themselves, without complexes, to a show with popular roots, and so they received the gratifying response of a public that pondered all the harmony achieved by professionals of high level.

«I want to highlight the inclusion of new songs by Cátulo and Troilo which were epoch-making, the above milonga, “Patio mio” and “Una canción”. In the first one Aída Luz was showcased with her great expressive strength. Time later Troilo committed it to record with the female singer Nelly Vázquez. The same showcasing was achieved by the beautiful voice of Agustín Irusta when he sang “Una canción”. Also in that comedy, the waltz “Vuelve la serenata”, sung by Irusta, and a habanera, “La retrechera”, with Aída Luz on vocals, were premiered. Towards the end there is a speech, written by Cátulo, by the actor Pedro Maratea in which we guess a proselytizing tinge common in those years of the Peronist government.

«Members of the great orchestra: Alberto García, Domingo Mattio, Eduardo Marino, Fernando Tell (bandoneons); David Díaz, Carmelo Cavallaro, Nicolás Albero, Juan Alzina, Carlos Arnaiz, Armando Ziella and Luis Guerrero (violins); Cayetano Giana, Vítor Luis Casagrande and Raúl Terré (violas); Alfredo Citro and Adriano Fanelli (cellos); Carlos Figari (piano); Kicho Díaz and Rafael Ferro (string basses); Domingo Rulio (flute); A. Guerra (clarinet); Pedro Hertz (oboe); Valentina Filipini (harp); Umberto Lunghi (bassoon); Francisco Donatucci (French horn); Francisco Alonso (trumpet); Salvador Cinichi (trombone); Roque Di Falco and Manuel Dopazo (percussionists).

«Out of the many stories to be told, I pick up this one due to its simplicity. It was customary that at the exit door for the artists a large number of people were gathered. One evening a woman approached me and told me: «Mister, what a nice play, I’m touched!» «I’m glad! Do you like it that much?» «Yes, yes, I’ve seen it sixteen times».»

Published in Cuadernos de difusión del tango nº 26.