You don’t have to know much about the world of the tango to appreciate the performance of Soledad Villamil in Canto Tangos at the Ringling International Arts Festival. Beautiful, charismatic and talented, Villamil, an Argentinean singer-actress perhaps best known here for her role in the award-winning film El secreto de sus ojos, has an immediate engagement with her audience that crosses any language barrier.
She comes on to the stage of the Mertz Theatre wearing a stunning red gown, long black hair tumbling over her shoulders, and promptly launches into alternately lively and heart-wrenching songs, most of which tell the story of troubled love affairs (one guesses, if one does not understand a great deal of Spanish). She’s backed by a five-piece orchestra led by Jose Teixido; she and her musicians seem in perfect synch, musically and emotionally, with each other and the songs she chooses to sing.
Villamil does speak occasionally in English, and on one number invites the audience to sing along on the chorus—something they do with enthusiasm if not exceptional skill. She provides a little background to some of the songs, just enough to set the scene, but really, much of the story is told through her revealing facial expressions and hand gestures.
Los Hermanos Macana
When Villamil needs a break, the entertaining Los Hermanos Macana take the stage. Enrique and Guillermo De Fazio are two slender, elegant gentlemen who cleverly set our conception of tango dancing on its ear by tangoing amusingly with each other, often in a rapid, leg-kicking fashion that leaves you concerned for the safety of certain private parts. They are fun to watch, as they add a comic touch to the proceedings, but you also have to admire the skill and polish underlying the whimsy.
Villamil and Los Hermanos Macana perform again today (Friday) and Saturday during RIAF; call 360-7399 or go to ringlingartsfestival.org.