Silvana Deluigi

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Silvana Deluigi
Silvana Deluigi © William Strauch

Article

Tango renewal

Silvana Deluigi, born in Buenos Aires in 1960, is a leading interpreter of the tango. She is concerned with renewing it and gaining more scope for improvisation. Since the mid 80s she has been living in Paris and touring the world with the ensemble Grupo 676, a quintet with classical tango instruments.
Silvana Deluigi was born on 27th November, 1960, in Buenos Aires. Her grandparents on her mother’s side came from Greece and Turkey, and on her father’s side from France and Switzerland. Like many other Europeans at the end of the 19th century, they went to South America to improve their standard of living.

Already at the age of 4, Silvana Deluigi sang so well that her resolute mother, an actress, sent her to a music school and then to a dance conservatory. As a child and young teenager, Silvana Deliugi had no ambitions to specialise in tango or even in music professionally, but she studied classical singing at the state conservatory in Buenos Aires and at the age of 19 had her first professional role as Maria in West Side Story in the Presidente Alvear Teatro in Buenos Aires. Two years later she sang in the rock opera Romeo e Julietta in the Coliseo Teatro. In 1984 she left for Paris, to study acting at the conservatory, and though 24 years old at the time, had still no ambitions to try tango. She explained her lack of interest in Argentina’s most popular export with the words: ‘Just one more tango singer: That is what they would have said in Buenos Aires’ (Die Zeit, 24.01.1992).

Four years later, in 1988, the table was turned. Silvana Deluigi performed in the best known Parisian tango club Troittoirs de Buenos Aires and was discovered by the bandoneon star Juan-José Mosalini, who invited her to perform with him in Paris. She enthusiastically accepted and was noticed at about the same time by the television channel ARTE, for which Heinz-Peter Schwerfel directed a documentary film with a fictional story-line and Silvana Deluigi in the leading role. Called Tanguera, it had its world premiere in the House of World Cultures (1989) and was also Silvana Deluigi’s debut in Germany. In 1991, under the label Wergo and with the support of the House of World Cultures, she issued her first CD, with the same name, Tanguera.

For Silvana Deluigi the main thing about tango is the search for the real identity of woman, who is sung about so often and examined so seldom. For a century she was no common female but a hot-blooded creature of bewitching charm from the alleys of a glorious past. The modern Tanguera Silvana Deluigo goes through the history of tango, song by song, from a woman’s point of view. She empties her taverns of machos and sozzled women and, in moving from Discepolo’s classics via Carlos Gardel’s hits to the more feministic ballads of singers like Eladia Blazquez, shows the duel of the sexes from the other side.

The change in message is accompanied by a change in music. With the help of contemporary new arrangements, Tanguera traces the evolution of the classical milonga through catchy dance rhythms to tango nuevo, created by Piazzola and developed by musicians like Juan-José Mosalini. Many of Tanguera’s compositions stem from the pen of the guitarist Tomás Gubitsch, whose career in Europe began in 1977 with Astor Piazzola. Since the 90s, Silvana Deluigi has also been accompanied by the pianist Osvaldo Caló and the bassist Jean-Paul Céléa, well known in France for their jazz.

With her second CD, entitled Tangos (1992), Silvana Deluigi perfected her experimental approach to tango by performing with musicians like the bandoneon virtuoso Luis Di Matto, the bassist Jean-Paul Celea and the saxophonist Ulrich Lask.

She issued her first live CD Loca (Mad) in 1999. The title refers to Astor Piazzola’s famous Balada por un loco and shows her willingness to take risks. The bandoneon is replaced by an accordion, ill esteemed by tango enthusiasts; and one of the tangos is a setting of Bertold Brecht’s Surabaya Johnny.

About traditional tango she says: ‘In Buenos Aires I grew up with the tradition of the classical tango, but I have never viewed the tradition as a museum-piece. Naturally I began in my own way to look for unknown aspects of this wonderful music. I tried to cross borders, to establish new and original dialogues between the texts and instruments’ (cited from www.users.imaginet.fr/~arene/deluigi1.htm).

In view of the present flood of Piazzola standard pieces performed by Yo-Yo-Ma, Daniel Barenboim, Gideon Kremer, Julio Iglesias and many others, Silvana Deluigi turns deliberately to a less familiar repertoire. Since Loca, her work has focused on Piazzola’s less often performed pieces, such as settings of works by the Argentinean poet Jorge Luis Borges, newly arranged by a former Argentinean student of Yehudi Menuhin’s - Daniel Zisman, the first violinist of the Bern Symphony Orchestra.

Borges’ dark evocations of city life and his sad short stories about love, madness and death are newly interpreted by Silvana Deluigi and Daniel Zisman. Their pieces are plain and unsentimental, discarding the usual style of Piazzola interpretation. On singing these pieces for the first time, Silvana Deluigi was accompanied by a tango quintet, consisting of a bandoneon, piano, bass, electric guitar and violin.

Her accompanying group, 676 Tango was named after the legendary tango-club Tucuman 676 in which Astor Piazzola and his quintet rose to fame at the start of the 60s. Sylvana Deluigi’s ensemble includes not only the founder Daniel Zisman but also the jazz-guitarist Francis Coletta from Marseilles and the bandoneon-player Michael Zisman, who studied in Buenos Aires, toured Israel, North America and Switzerland and then at the age of 18 toured Europe.


Events at the HKW:
Friday, 3rd November, 1989
...and not only Tango
Tanguera Concert
with
Silvana Deluigi
Organiser: House of World Cultures


Saturday, 1st February, 1992
Silvana Deluigi

Organiser: House of World Cultures


Friday, 4th December, 1994
Tango Nuevo
Silvana Deluigi and Luis Di Matteo
Organiser: House of World Cultures
Author: Verena Mörath 

Bio

Born on 27th November, 1960, in Buenos Aires, Silvana Deluigi learned acting at the Conservatorio Nacional de Arte Dramatico in Buenos Aires then singing at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d´Art Dramatique in Paris. She rounded her studies off in Buenos Aires with classical singing at the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica, gained experience at the Teatro de l´Opera Massimo Bellini in Catania on Sicily and took private lessons with Jacques and Françoise Rondeleux in Paris.

Works

Loca

Published Audio,
1999
(first live CD with Osvaldo Caló, Renaud Garcia Fons, Jean Louis Matinier et al.)

The Sounds of 10 Years in the House of World Cultures

Published Audio,
1999
Berlin, 1999

Night Music on West German Radio – live-concert in the main studio of WDR

Production / Performance,
1995

Tangos

Published Audio,
1995
(duos with Luis di Matteo, Jean-Paul Celea, Osvaldo Caló and Ulrich Lask)

Tour with Juan-José Mosalini and band

Production / Performance,
1994

Tango mio – Solo-tour with bandoneonist Luis di Matteo

Production / Performance,
1994

Tour with Juan-José Mosalini, band and female dancer

Production / Performance,
1993

Tanguera – German tour

Published Audio,
1992
(including the House of World Cultures, Berlin)

Tanguera - Woman in Tango

Published Audio,
1991

Tanguera

Production / Performance,
1989
Trottoirs de Buenos Aires, Paris and House of World Cultures, Berlin

Blue Tango - Trottoirs de Buenos Aires, Paris

Production / Performance,
1988

Libertango

Production / Performance,
1985
Musical, main role, Théatre de Plaisance, Paris

Romeo y Julieta

Production / Performance,
1981
Musical, main role, Teatro Coliseo, Buenos Aires

West Side Story

Production / Performance,
1979
Musical, main role, Teatro Presidente Alvear, Buenos Aires

Merits

1991 the quarterly prize of German record reviewers for Tanguera
video

El Ultimo Café

taken from the CD "Woman In Tango"
Spectrum
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