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Griseta (1924)

Grisette[1]
lyrics by José González Castillo

A strange cross between Musette and Mimi,
with the caresses of Rodolfo and Schaunard, [2]
she was the flower of Paris
that the dream of a novel brought to the arrabal.
And in the crazy ramblings of the cabaret
the sweet melody of some tough-guy tango
encouraged her illusions:
she dreamt of Des Grieux,
she wanted to be Manon, [3]

Little French girl,
you brought, fickle temptress,
the sentimental, flirtatious
poetry of your Parisian neighborhood.
Who could have said
that your grisette poem
would have only one verse:
the silent agony
of Marguerite Gauthier? [4]

But the cold squalor of the arrabal,
withered the purity of her faith—
without finding her Duval,
her heart dried out, just like a lily of the valley.
And on a night of champagne and cocaine,
to the funeral dirge of a bandoneón,
the poor girl, she went to sleep…
just like Mimí,
just like Manón.

[1] A French term roughly meaning “little grey girl,” grisette refers to the inexpensive grey fabric worn by working class girls. In Buenos Aires, such French immigrant girls were stereotypically seamstresses.
[2] Characters in Puccini’s La bohème and the 1851 French novel by Henri Murger that inspired it. Mimí is a seamstress who succumbs to tuberculosis.
[3] Characters in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and the 1731 novel by Antoine François Prévost that inspired it. Like Mimí, Manon dies in her lover’s arms at the end.
[4] Protagonist of Dumas fils’ novel The Lady of the Camellias adapted into Verdi’s La Traviata and countless other stories, she is a tragic heroine like Mimí & Manón.

Carlos Gardel

Orq. Carlos Di Sarli, singer Roberto Rufino

Orq. Rodolfo Biagi, singer Andrés Falgas

Orq. Osvaldo Fresedo (instrumental)

(Spanish original after the jump)

Griseta

Mezcla rara de Museta y de Mimí
con caricias de Rodolfo y de Schaunard,
era la flor de París
que un sueño de novela trajo al arrabal.
Y en el loco divagar del cabaret,
al arrullo de algún tango compadrón
alentaba una ilusión:
soñaba con Des Grieux,
quería ser Manon.

Francesita,
que trajiste, pizpireta,
sentimental y coqueta
la poesía del quartier,
¿Quién diría
que tu poema de griseta
sólo una estrofa tendría:
la silenciosa agonía
de Margarita Gauthier?

Mas la fría sordidez del arrabal,
agostando la pureza de su fe,
sin hallar a su Duval,
secó su corazón lo mismo que un muguet.
Y una noche de champán y de cocó,
al arrullo funeral de un bandoneón,
pobrecita, se durmió…
lo mismo que Mimí,
lo mismo que Manón.

About Derrick Del Pilar

Born and raised in Chicago, I came to the tango while studying at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires in 2006. In 2008 I earned my B.A. with majors in Creative Writing and Spanish & Portuguese from the University of Arizona, and in 2009 I earned an M.A. in Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. My specialty is the history & literature of early 20th century Argentina.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Griseta (1924)

  1. Que tangazo, hermano! Gracias por las anotaciones explicando quienes son Mimi, Museta, Manon, y Margarita Gauthier… es que lo unico que se de literatura francesa es…… em… bueno..

    Siempre me habia preguntado quien era la tal Margarita Gauthier, pero nunca se me ocurrio buscar por Google con el nombre en Frances (al buscarlo en espanol, solo salen paginas acerca del tango Margarita Gauthier).

    La conexion entre el tango argentino y Francia es algo curioso; he hablado brevemente acerca de esto con Sebastian Misse, que es un enamorado de Paris. Deberiamos hacer una pequena investigacion al respecto. Debe haber un monton de tangos con referencias a Francia o Paris (por ejemplo: Marion… se que a tu lado fui feliz cuando te di mi corazon en el viejo Paris)

    Posted by Jaimito | 03.05.2011, 7:26 AM
    • Hace un mes di una charla en Los Ángeles sobre el personaje de la “francesita” en el tango. Griseta, Margarita Gauthier, Madame Ivonne, Marión, Claudinette (este último, en la version por D’Arienzo con Mauré, me encanta), en todos estos tangos aparece la figura de una francesita. Estas chicas no son percantas que amuran a los pibes cantores, sino pobrecitas que la muerte lleva.
      Si querés te puedo enviar los apuntes que preparé para este chamuyo…me pareció que les interesaba mucho a los que asistieron.
      Un abrazo!

      Posted by poesiadegotan | 03.05.2011, 11:02 AM
  2. Una letra y una música excepcional, para un gran tango.-

    Posted by SantaClaus | 01.23.2015, 1:14 PM
  3. Manon (Opera/Ballet) was composed by Massenet

    Posted by Ken Yip | 01.21.2016, 12:26 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Di Sarli #2: Vocals with Roberto Rufino « DDP's Favorite Tandas - 10.26.2011

  2. Pingback: Inspiración | Jens-Ingo's Tango DJ - 01.18.2013

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The sound files on this site are included for illustrative purposes only. Those wishing to obtain high quality versions for their personal collections should purchase commercially available copies. If you can't get to a record store in Buenos Aires, a great many tangos are available, song by song, from http://www.tangotunes.com/ and others can be found on iTunes (transfer quality varies widely). Many CDs are available through online retailers such as Michael Lavocah's superb http://milonga.co.uk/.

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