February 2007 — When Elsa Osorio was writing her new novel “Cielo de Tango,” she drew inspiration for her fictional tango singer Rosa Leyra from real-life tango singer María Volonté.
The novel, recently released across Europe, tells the saga of two families at opposite ends of the Buenos Aires social spectrum. Rosa, one of the protagonists, sings tango with an intensity garnered from the rough life she has lived.
For the European launch, the author personally selected 11 tango songs to be included in a soundtrack CD, including two sung by Maria. The idea was to allow readers to hear the music of Buenos Aires – itself an important character in the book – and the music that was running through Osorio’s head as she wrote her new book.
“Rosa’s voice — from the first moment it appeared in the manuscript – was María Volonté’s,” Osorio says. “Rosa has María’s force and her passion. As one of my characters says, ‘When you sang to me, you felt each and every word as your own. The stories you told were happening to you, that was your secret.’
“María Volonté’s voice,” says Osorio, “together with the voices of Amalia Rodrígues and María Bethania, form the soundtrack of my life.”
For the album “Tango: Les musiques d’un livre,” Volonté sang “Apología Tanguera” and recorded a special version of “Nostalgias” accompanied only by guitars, giving it the sound it would have had in the 1920s when Rosa sings it in the book.
Elsa Osorio has published eight novels that have been translated into 17 languages in 24 countries. She is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Amnesty International Prize. “Cielo de Tango,” her latest book, has been published in Argentina, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Portugal and Germany.
Elsa Osorio’s web site: www.elsaosorio.com
Listen to the version of “Nostalgias” that Maria recorded to accompany the book: