Tango is a sensual style of music that has enraptured the world for many years. This style of music was created in the working class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and later in Montevideo, Uruguay. Many may only know the tango dance style, but it is much more than that; it’s also the passionate connection to the music and the story, expressed through music, dance and song. GALA Hispanic Theatre and director Hugo Medrano bring these elements to brilliant life in their tango musical revue, Pure Tango II.
The show opens with lights up on the two dancers of the evening, Jeremías Massera and Mariela Barufaldi. They’re entrancing, and they are absolutely engaged with one another as they move gracefully about the stage. The dancers were exquisite, leaving me wanting to see more at the end of each scene.
When the dancers exit our attentions are drawn to the set, beautifully designed by Mariana Fernadez. Fernandez transports the audience to the ports of beautiful Buenos Aires, the birthplace of Tango. Fernandez also designed the costumes, and while many of the gowns were beautiful, I would have liked to have seen the narrator, Cecilia de Feo, adorned in a costume more flattering for her. The fedora and suit fit her well, but it seemed a shame to hide her obvious beauty in conservative garb. De Feo makes the pieces of the story together as she narrates, tying the songs and stories within with an enjoyable appeal.
The talented band was onstage: Musical Director Alvaro Hagopián (Piano), Dominic Martínez (Bass), and Nario Recoba (Bandoneón). The trio effectively moves the show along, seamlessly taking us from song to song, and even vocalizing support to our performers adding to the urban atmosphere.
The first vocalist we hear is renowned singer Nelson Pino. His voice fills the auditorium, captivating us from his first note. I especially enjoyed his depiction of machismo singing about a compadrito or eye-catching male tango dancer in the song “Baldosa Floja” or “Loose Tile.”
Creator Hugo Medrano sought to highlight and celebrate the role of women in the tradition of tango. To accomplish this he gives us the striking vocalist María de los Ángeles. She passionately captures the essence of Tango, and elicits pure emotion as she sings “Nada” or “Nothing” and “Los Pajaros Perdidos” or “The Lost Birds.”
One might think our third vocalist might be lost behind the likes of Pino and los Ángeles, but that is not the case for the captivating Elisa Cordova. Cordova has a lovely soprano voice; she won the crowd over with her performance of the song “Vida Mia” or “My Love.”
Overall, this was a very gratifying night of music and dance (though I would like to have seen the dancers on stage more, along with the vocalists). I encourage all Washingtonians to try something new and experience the cultural treat that is Pure Tango II at GALA Hispanic Theatre.
Running Time: One hour and 45 minutes, with one intermission. In Spanish with English Surtitles.