Like a specter that returns “with withered forehead”, Carlos Gardel will reappear in hologram to sing in a historic theater in Tacuarembó, a Uruguayan city that many consider its origin and, at the same time, its condemnation for being the place where Colonel Carlos Plaster he did not recognize him as a son.
The voice of the “Zorzal Criollo”, whose death in a tragic plane crash in Medellín (Colombia) this friday is 87 years oldwas never definitively silent on radio, television or movie screens.
However, seeing this legend of tango face to face is a privilege that no one can enjoy and that, as he assures in dialogue with the Agencia EFE the director of Culture of the government of Tacuarembo, Carlos ArezoThanks to technology, it could become a reality in 2023.
A visionary colonel
After a brief military training that led him to participate in the Site of Paysandua conflict that preceded the War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870), the Uruguayan Carlos Plaster Medina (1845-1915) settled in Villa San Fructuoso, today the city of Tacuarembó, in the north of Uruguay.
Appointed colonel and political chief of the area, Escayola had, beyond his “black” face, since he murdered and held multiple enemies captive, a particular social reputation.
“He was a musician, he was a singer, he played the guitar, the piano, the mandolin; he got into the carnival contests ”notes Arezo, who says that this distinguished him and motivated that, when the focus was on building barracks and regiments, he ordered the erection of a theater.
The colonel, whom Arezo describes as “visionary”, since, in a context in which foreign companies attracted by gold mining arrived in that area, he opted for culture with significant capital.
This is detailed in the information that accompanies the sample of the Photography Center of Montevideo (CdF) organized by documentary Gardel’s father (2013), since it says that Escayola commissioned an Italian-style opera house from the French engineer Víctor L’Olivier for “about 25,000 pesos,” a “big blow” to his fortune.
a unique theater
Inaugurated on May 31, 1891, the Escayola Theater, details the CdF, was not only “luxurious”, but also had “all the comforts of any European theater of the time”, since, in addition to standing out as the first venue with electricity from Tacuarembo, it had two neighboring inns to host the cast.
The venue, to which, with the efforts of Escayola, artists from all over the world arrived at a strategic stop between Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, and which over time functioned as a cinema -until 1956, when it closed-, was acquired in 2014 by the local government and is today undergoing reconstruction works.
As detailed by the director of Urban Roads of the Municipality of Tacuarembó, Martha Mullin, the project, with an investment of some two million dollars, will constitute a “cultural complex” with the relocation of two pre-existing museums in the old inns and will be completed in 2023.
“Today, work is being done on the theater itself, which is approximately 900 square meters and three levels for an estimated 200 seats, with the incorporation of the necessary technology to update all theatrical functions”he remarks.
According to the architect, the central difficulty lies in “recomposing” altered parts of the theater for other uses, since, Arezo comments, at some point a printing press worked on the premises, for example.
Like father Like Son
Two theories still dispute the origin of Gardel: one says that he is French; the other, which recognizes him as a Uruguayan, finds in his visits to Tacuarembó and in official records the basis to affirm that “El Mago” is one of the 36 illegitimate children that Escayola had -plus 14 within their marriages-.
As detailed in the documentary Ricardo Casas and the CdF records, the youngest of the three Oliva sisters whom Escayola married, Maria Lelia, she became pregnant at the age of 13 with the latter, who was the husband of another of them, which motivated her to send the child “as far away as possible” with the French nanny who would raise him, Berthe Gardens.
While the oral testimonies of the Escayola family agree that there was a family mandate to silence the Gardel affair, it is clear that the owner of this iconic voice shared his passion for music with the colonel.
However, the famous author of By a head he never sang at the Escayola Theater, which the people of Tacuarembo hope to remedy.
“He is going to sing at the gala night for the reopening of the Escayola Theater in 2023. We are already making the connections for the case to put up a hologram”emphasizes Arezo, who already spreads that sonorous illusion. (YO)