Ar­gentina re­opens mu­seum for tango great Gardel

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY AL­MU­DENA CALA­TRAVA

At the peak of his ca­reer in the 1930s, Carlos Gardel’s fans used to gather at the curb out­side his home, hop­ing to hear one of Ar­gentina’s great­est tango singers prac­tice a tune be­fore a show. Now, they can gather in­side to hear him again.

Visi­tors to the re­mod­elled “Carlos Gardel Mu­seum Home’’ at his for­mer house in the Ar­gen­tine cap­i­tal can see blackand-white im­ages of key mo­ments in the ca­reer of the singer who gave tango a huge boost world­wide.

And the voice is on tap as well. Visi­tors can hear any of his 893 record­ings through head­phones in­stalled there.

“It’s very in­ter­est­ing to visit the house where he lived and to give chil­dren a chance to un­der­stand that there are other types of mu­sic,’’ said Siomara Gor­don, a Colom­bian tourist visit­ing the mu­seum. “He ex­presses love like no other.’’

Gardel’s cult re­mains pow­er­ful more than eight decades after his death in a 1935 air crash in Colom­bia at the age of 44. Ar­gen­tines of­ten leave car­na­tions and burn­ing cig­a­rettes at his tomb in Chacarita ceme­tery in Buenos Aires and cou­ples dance to his songs in packed halls. Iconic im­ages of him with a fe­dora hat pulled over his brow and a cig­a­rette dan­gling from his lips are plas­tered on walls through­out Buenos Aires — and on those of Ar­gen­tine restau­rants world­wide.

The mu­seum was first in­au­gu­rated in 2003, and re­opened in June. It is lo­cated in the tan­gocrazed Abasto neigh­bour­hood of Ar­gentina’s cap­i­tal, where Gardel used to fre­quent cafes and of­ten per­form. Gardel bought the home in 1926 at the peak of his ca­reer and lived there with his mother, MarieBerthe Gardes. The place be­came the gath­er­ing point for jour­nal­ists and friends visit­ing the singer.

“Gardel had this grand piano where he would re­hearse his com­po­si­tions. Gui­tarists and other mu­si­cians would get to­gether with other friends and Gardel’s mother, who was a great cook, would cook for all of them,’’ mu­seum di­rec­tor Carlos Koff­man, said near the win­dows through which Gardel’s fans out­side could hear him prac­tice.

The mu­seum is filled with me­men­tos in­clud­ing un­pub­lished au­dio­vi­sual ma­te­rial made shortly be­fore his death.

There is an au­then­ti­cated copy of Gardel’s birth cer­tifi­cate, which shows that he was born in Toulouse, France, on Dec. 11, 1890.

One room in the ex­hi­bi­tion fo­cuses on Gardel’s tour of Latin Amer­ica be­fore his death. Im­ages from Ar­gentina’s Na­tional Archives show Gardel’s re­mains re­turn­ing to Buenos Aires in 1936, his wake and his funeral.

“Gardel is huge to­day,’’ said mu­seum visi­tor Mar­i­ano Her­rera. “And he’ll con­tinue to be great through­out time.’’


A clock owned by late tango singer Carlos Gardel is ex­hib­ited at the Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum in Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina in 2015. The ex­hibit marks the 80th an­niver­sary of Gardel’s tragic death in 1935.

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