Pregonera (Flower Seller) – live version

There are only a handful of movie scenes with performances from tango orchestras, but when you do come across one, it’s always a special feeling. As I was doing some research for my translation of “Pregonera” (click here for the original post with some context) I found a live version of this De Angelis classic from the 1948 movie “El cantor del pueblo” (“Singer of the people”), which also contains some D’Arienzo footage you might just enjoy as well. Let’s take a brief look at some interesting aspects of this movie performance of Pregonera.

Unfortunately, the original footage is a bit choppy and quite likely also too fast. I have not found any different versions of the movie, so I don’t know what causes the choppiness (you’ll notice that it often slightly jumps forward or skips) but I don’t think it can be fixed. The speed may still be tuned but I did not want to manipulate the original material too much. I’ve noticed there’s a lot of interest in correcting pitch in tango songs nowadays, so if you’re up for a challenge go ahead and slow it down a bit! 🙂

As you shall see below, the orchestra is playing on quite an interesting-looking stage with multiple levels, and a venue or at least a movie set that reminds me more of a church than anything else. It makes me wonder whether this was an actual venue and how the average real tango venue looked like in comparison. Other movie scenes and some photos I’ve seen show a somewhat more modest style, but I do not know enough for a truly satisfying conclusion. I also wonder whether the crowds you see in scenes like this were just a bunch of actors or walk-ons, or true fans of the orchestra who would normally come to dance or simply listen to the tunes of the moment. Just like in today’s popular entertainment, I’m not always sure what’s authentic and what isn’t, but in any case I always really enjoy philosophizing a bit about the many things in tango we don’t yet know or will never really find out about.

Likewise, when I look at the way De Angelis and his team are performing in this movie, I can’t help but wonder how ‘authentic’ this performance is (considering it was, to some extent at least, adapted for the big screen) and how it would have compared to their actual regular shows around town. The singers, Carlos Dante and Julio Martel, present themselves in a slightly extravagant way, but it does fit the music and the theme of the lyrics, and it’s of course possible they always behaved like this in their duets or even their solo performances. Also, we get a better view of piano man De Angelis at the final notes, and I find his body language and gestures slightly amusing. Are we looking at something natural and authentic here? But then again, this might be either something artificially fancy for a movie set, or maybe they were just being their normal Argentine selves, not exactly a people known for being all that ordinary or boring.

I guess we’ll never truly know. The best thing would be to ask the people who were involved, and ask them privately about the true and sometimes hidden ‘ways’ of the entertainment business of that time, but we’ve come quite a bit too late for that. I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a time machine, and when it arrives, I’ll be checking out some concerts and writing down a bunch of observations to tell you good people all about it. Well, I guess I’ll write it down but I’ll actually never come back to tell you, because I’ll probably be too busy in 1930s-1940s Argentina to ever come back to our current age. Farewell, suckers!

Pregonera (Flower Seller)
Lyrics: José Rótulo
Composition: Alfredo de Angelis

Princesita rubia de marfil
dueña de mi sueño juvenil,
la que pregonando flores
un día de abril,
recuerdo por las calles de París.
“Una rosa roja para usted,
roja como el ansia de querer,
rosas y claveles blancos,
blancos de ilusión”
y sigue la princesa su pregón.

Blonde princess of alabaster skin,
mistress of my youthful dreams…
she whom I remember, one April day,
selling flowers on the streets of Paris.
“A red rose for you,
red like the desire to love…
roses and white carnations,
white like a dream of hope…”
and so my princess, calling out, passes by.

“Un cariño y un clavel
para el ojal, para el querer.”
El clavel es de ilusión,
mi corazón rojo punzó.
Ay, la tarde va muriendo,
y el pregón me va siguiendo.
“Un cariñito y un clavel”
sólo el clavel, lo que quedó.

“A caress and a carnation,
for your jacket, for love.”
A carnation for hope,
for my yearning heart.
And as the evening fades,
her cry still follows me.
“A caress and a carnation!”
now, only the carnation remains.

Princesita rubia de marfil,
dónde fue tu risa tan sutil,
junto con tus flores muertas
muere mi ilusión.
Y escucho el eco tenue de tu voz.
Es como un susurro sin cesar,
que va despertando mi ansiedad,
es mi fantasía loca
que vuelve a soñar.
De nuevo soy feliz con tu cantar.

Blonde princess of alabaster skin,
what has become of your subtle laugh?
Along with your dead flowers
my hope dies too.
But as I hear the faint echo of your voice,
like a ceaseless whisper,
it awakens a feeble hope.
It’s my infatuation…
making me dream again.
Your song… making me happy again.

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