Tango Stories #1 - A La Gran Muñeca

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet."

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Have you ever wondered what a certain tango name meant or what the name signifies? 
For example, the tango A La Gran Muñeca.  The literal translation could be either To the big doll or To the big wrist, since the word muñeca has both meanings, depending on context.   The correct meaning in this case is To the big doll because it was written for a musical stage show with that name by Jesús Ventura, with lyrics by Miguel Osés.  La Gran Muñeca was the fictional name of a bazaar and toy store where the action of the story supposedly took place. In the show, the actors played dolls who came to life in the bazaar.  It was first performed in 1919 at the Teatro Buenos Aires that was located on Cangallo Street; (it was later demolished to build the Avenida 9 de Julio). The show was a great success and the tango became very popular but soon fell into oblivion. It was Carlos Di Sarli who incorporated it into his repertoire in the mid-1940s, recorded it three times, in 1945, 1951 and 1954, and turned it into a classic.  

We think the best version of the tango A La Gran Muñeca for dancing is the 1954 Carlos Di Sarli recording from the album “Dos Maestros, Dos Estilos”, Archivo RCA (EU-16019).

By Donald Cooper

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