Original photo 'Rosita Fornés and the product spilled', promotional photo session, Havana, 1947. Credit: Armand Studios (Armando Hernández López).
Original photo 'Rosita Fornés and the product spilled', promotional photo session, Havana, 1947. Credit: Armand Studios (Armando Hernández López).

Rosa Fornés: because there is no one like her

9 minutos / Norge Espinosa Mendoza

20.02.2019 / Articles

Not only because Freddy Maragotto, one of his greatest admirers has asked me since yesterday to remember this woman's birthday, is that I'm writing about her again. It seems that I can not avoid doing it, and every February 11th I give up again to his charm, his versatility, his professionalism and his way of surviving so many hecatombs.

Rosalía Palet Bonavía, that little girl who debuted with The Amazement of Damascus, is now 96 years old, and without her presence we would have missed much to understand about the charisma, and the glamor and authentic popularity that some Cuban artists have managed to win; which contrasts so much in this time of supposed artists who neither sing nor eat any vegetable, but who are promoted as if they were candidates for the Nobel prize for the cheapest frivolity. Rosa Fornés was light, graceful, sympathetic, but she always managed to demonstrate an intuition that kept her safe, even when she let her talent get into not always reliable hands. Like our other great vedette, Maria de los Angeles Santana, she imposed on herself not to be encased in the image of feathers and sequins, and showed when the wide range of her artistic streak was given opportunity. With an ideal voice for zarzuelas and operettas, for the light musical and the variety magazine, he surpassed the beauty of his youth, the stays in Mexico and Spain, to always return to his country. That fidelity knew how to take her with the same pride with which she left, wrapped in a majestic cloak, to sing a song by Meme Solís in the Parade of Joy. There was never, probably, a more gay television show in the history of that medium in Cuba than Cita con Rosita, where he was always seen with a court of dancers who emulated with those of Raffaella Carrá in his famous video of Hay que viene al sur .
Ese público hoy la sigue adorando, porque Rosa jamás les ha negado una sonrisa. Como ya he dicho esto y más sobre ella, lo que añado hoy a la fiesta que la reconoce como una auténtica reina es un playlist de sus canciones que prefiero, en el que hay desde las más previsibles hasta las más delirantes: ella ha sido todo eso y mucho de lo que las generaciones de hoy no se imaginan. Protagonista de zarzuelas, bailarina de mambo y cha cha chá junto a Tin Tan, Linda Misterio en Madrid, Violeta en la Confesión en el barrio chino que le regalaron los hermanos Dorr,   la Gloria afanada en conseguir un mejor apartamento en Se permuta, Filomena Marturano en Teatro ICR, la Dolly Levi del Teatro Karl Marx, Rosa Soto (su mejor actuación en cine) negada a aceptar «papeles secundarios», la esposa de Bianchi y la reina de Juntos a las 9 y otros shows de ese tipo… todo eso coincide en la Fornés, en esos 96 años que se volvieron anhelo de artista cuando cantó La hija de Juan Simón en La corte suprema del Arte.
Here they go, like ten flowers for her, these recordings of her that I prefer and recommend.
10. Those green eyes, for the soundtrack of Secondary Papers. Driven by Mario Daly, responsible for the soundtrack of this film by Orlando Rojas, La Fornés recalled her days as a rock girl to sing an amazing version of the famous Nile Menéndez bolero to leave us speechless. A video on YouTube, rescued by that main worshiper of the Fornés that is Tony Pisani, attests to the event that, as far as I know, never reached the disc.
9. A bouquet of roses. Included among the tracks of Vedetísima, the album that managed to accumulate a set that gives an accurate idea of the versatility of the Fornés, this song is a shake by Pal Latorre and José Solá, which the actress and singer would turn into one of her letters of presentation throughout the 70s. And even more.
8. Why are you leaving? The song of Gilbert Bécaud had remarkable versions in other languages, like the one of Judy Garland. La Fornés draws on its bass tones to convey the drama of the famous song. On YouTube, that country that I plan to retire to in my old age, there is a video of her singing these verses live, which fully justify why this election.
7. The happy widow I want to believe that in some hiding place of the impenetrable coffers of the ICRT a video recording is preserved, or the playback of at least some of the television broadcasts in which the Fornés was Ana de Glavary. This role, along with that of La Casta Susana, were exceptional in their performance, and it is a pity that EGREM or the ICRT itself has not released those records, where the Fornés lavishes elegance, mischief, salt and a charm that they make their versions of those papers a genuine lesson.
6. Nights of Moscow. In truth it is not so much about the theme but about the appearance of it in a farewell of the Parade of Joy, directed by Condall, which included here this subject, which could have been replaced by Prendado a sentiment, the rocker version of the Fornés de the very popular song by BJ Thomas, at the dawn of the 10 Million Zafra. But the number that she centralises, with a cardboard background Moscow, a stern and severe chorus mixed with some mamboletes of breaks and raja, becomes one of the most surreal moments of that time in which the Soviet wanted to impose itself among us. Without Rosa Fornés in the middle, as you can see on YouTube, that would have no head or tail. She is the "unitive solution" of that coming and going of extras and singers who tells us, also in their own way, how possible or impossible that "eternal brotherhood" was between the Caribbean and Siberia. Safety pin.
5. The comedian. A song by José Antonio Quesada allowed him, in 1984, to win the interpretation prize of the Guzmán Contest. Sung monologue, in fact, was a manifesto of reaffirmation of his career, and a review to not stay waiting for new applause, which she grows even more with his personality. Also on YouTube, it confirms the weapons of the Fornés, which, a long time later, would reaffirm them by assuming in its own way the very famous Balada para un loco de Piazzolla.
4. Love magic. It is a song of the most beautiful of Adolfo Guzmán, and that soprano voice so his is put at the service of an impeccable melody. Within a repertoire that abounds in versions, this is a song that, undoubtedly, belongs entirely to the Fornés.
3. Tell him One of those songs that she made so popular, and that even in Rosa del Tiempo, the CD that launched the EGREM after many years of not editing anything from the Fornés, continues presenting as author a mysterious DR (Rights Reserved). Vedetima's recording has a slight Mexican accent on those trumpets, and she revels in the role of "the other." As if someone could leave this woman for another, at least when she sings to us with so much defiance and grace.
2. The Girl Yé Yé. I was about to change this theme for one recorded for children (I have already said that the Fornés is versatility, and I am referring to her Andalusian cat where she shows that her feline voice is an instrument that gives a lot), but I give in to her version of a song conceived for Concha Velasco, and that transformed the great Spanish actress suddenly into a singer. Back to YouTube, there is another video (thanks a thousand times, Tony Pisani) that despite its low quality, lets see the Fornés in its glory. Without feathers, without too many ornaments, without jewels more radiant than her smile, she is undoubtedly our best Girl Ye Ye. With forgiveness from his Majesty, the Velasco.
1. Without a reproach, by Meme Solís. Well, what to say. On YouTube La Fornés sings with a mastery of herself, a dignity of a great lady and a unique phrase, Another dawn. It is accompanied by a fan that I once held in my hands, and an air that combines perfectly with the choirs and the orchestra in full of the recording. Rosa's friendship with Meme Solís is one of the great chapters of her life. And on top of that episode, there is his rendition of Without a reproach. It is, of all of the list, the only one I've seen him sing live. And so she, as well as the way the public follows her through the words and the refrain, confirm to me why this is my favorite Fornes moment. There's a lot of it, of both their lives, in that song. And that's why, on this 96-year-old morning, it's the first I hear. To sing with her, of course, and with Meme Solís.
The trajectory of such a singular woman does not fit in a playlist. Nor, in 24 hours, it fits all that she deserves as a tribute. Suffice those notes and recommendations to know it alive and with us, singing for us. Because there is no one like her. In no garden in Cuba has a rose like this shone so brightly.
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Norge Espinosa Mendoza

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