The day Sinatra met Gardel, a theatrical meeting at the Alvear

The day Sinatra met Gardel, a theatrical meeting at the Alvear
The day Sinatra met Gardel, a theatrical meeting at the Alvear

“Gardel and Sinatra had great voices. “Gardel lived in a time where his entire career was spent singing without amplification and Sinatra in another time was the king of the microphone, with another style of singing that seems to sing into the ear,” says Oscar Lajad, who plays Gardel in “When Frank met Carlitos, an imaginary meeting,” which debuts on Friday, July 5 at the Presidente Alvear theater of the CTBA.

This piece of music written by Raul Lopez Rossi and Gustavo González, has performances by Lajad, Alan Madanes as Sinatra and Antonella Misenti in the role of girlfriend Sinatra, Nancy Barbato, as well as dancers and musicians on stage. The work imagines the encounter between Creole Thrush and the voice in 1934, when according to legend a young Sinatra 19-year-old burst into the dressing room Gardel. We talk with Lajad and Madanes.

Journalist: The work imagines an unkind encounter, why?

Oscar Lajad: There is a situation in which Sinatra breaks into Gardel’s dressing room, at NBC, and he does not take it well and sees him as an intruder. But throughout the play they establish a relationship and a friendship is born.

Alan Madanes: This is an unverifiable meeting but the myth says that Sinatra went with his girlfriend Nancy Barbato to see him. Afterwards he approached Gardel, they chatted and it is assumed that he said inspiring words to him. Sinatra was lost and from that discomfort and that little understanding they tried to get closer.


Q.: A mutual admiration between the two can be assumed. What does each admire about their colleague? What differences and similarities appear?

OL: Sinatra admired Gardel, Gardel’s artistic stature, his vocal quality, what popular singers meant and what they were after him, image-care marketing, and recording material are undeniable. Even the 3-minute duration of a song was promoted by Gardel. If this meeting happened Gardel would surely have seen some talent in that boy who was Sinatra. The truth is that Gardel did not know that consecrated Sinatra and would admire that voice. Gardel had another vocal setup given to be heard without a microphone, at the end of his career they amplified the sound of the musicians with an ambient microphone. Both differed in character, according to what I investigated, Gardel was very cordial, joy, good humor, and jocularity predominated, and Sinatra was a bit grumpy from what I know.

A.M: In the work you see a rebellious Frank Sinatra, a boy who changes jobs and in this meeting Gardel guides him. There is a veil of seduction, histrionics, they are two hypnotic characters, with their own light.

Q: What is Sinatra’s idolization of Zorzal like and what is the friendship they build like?

OL: Sinatra was 19 years old, he was not yet a professional and he did not know if he was going to become a singer, so in this story there is total admiration for Gardel, who was a superstar. The friendship is given by the paternal situation of Gardel to Sinatra, surely Gardel sees himself reflected in that young Sinatra who is traveling paths that Gardel traveled in his youth. That leads Gardel to want to coach this American with a nice voice who has hours of flight left.

A.M: Sinatra feels total admiration for Gardel, there is something passionate, from the River Plate, a strong performance, about crossing the barrier, and that is what Sinatra wants to learn from. There is something fraternal between them but also sponsorship, they come together and the barrier of discomfort is broken. From being an unattainable star to the humanity behind that star.

Q.: What does the work tell about these friends in relation to women, friends, the neighborhood, gambling, lunfardo, good and bad company?

OL: Gardel uses these examples and experiences to show Sinatra the essence and passion for tango.

A.M: Sinatra was surrounded by bad company and Gardel wants to distance him from that, promoting the power he had for music. He did not dare to bet on the artistic because he was linked to work that had little to do with that environment.


Q.: What songs from the Gardelian repertoire are heard and in what style are they approached?

OL: “My beloved Buenos Aires”, “Volver”, “Cuesta down”, “For a head”, etc., and they are sung well in the Gardel style and when Sinatra intervenes they become blues, jazz, which is also a pleasure to listen to with translations very well done.

A.M: There are the best-known tangos, there is a concert with musicians on stage, the tangos are mixed with the style that is beginning to emerge in Sinatra, with jazz, melodic rhythms.

Q: Why did you want to make a work that was a film? What does theater contribute?

OL: This project was born as a theatrical proposal that Raúl López Rossi and Gustavo González wrote and we planned to premiere in 2020, the pandemic arrived and it was frozen. Until the proposal came to film it and watch it on Disney Plus. It was filmed without losing the theatrical essence so the original purpose of being a musical theater project will be released.

A.M: With the work you gain spectacularity because other dimensions are perceived, the senses are intertwined, cinema and theater are very different languages. In cinema it becomes intimate with the camera over the face and in theater you have to build with other resources, you see everything at the same time.

Source: Ambito

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