Maria de Buenos Aires
As the soul of the unborn Maria watches, El Duende serenades the man and woman fated to be the child’s parents. They bear a little girl, who hears El Duende’s hungry whispering.
2) Tema de Maria
The child Maria watches her parents’ drunken brawling, but is eventually led away by the lullaby of her soul.
3) Balada Renga Para Un Organito Loco
Maria is now a woman and aids her mother with the housework as they listen to the Payador’s ballad on the radio. Maria watches fascinated as two men tango together to attract the attention of a socialite from Buenos Aires.
4) Yo Soy Maria
Maria decides to run away to Buenos Aires, and upon arrival is spellbound by the possibilities.
5) Milonga Carrieguera Por Maria La Nina
Maria meets the Payador in the flesh, and he muses over her confident naivety. She follows him to his flat, where they make love.
6) Fuga Y Misterio
El Duende appears, and watches as a thief searches for an open window to explore. While the Payador sleeps, Maria notices the thief and sneaks out to meet him. They tango, and leave together.
7) Poema Valseado
Maria wanders through the streets observing vendors and other citizens. She gives an apple to a blind leper, and then joins the thief, who is now her lover.
8) Tocata Rea
The leper reveals itself to be El Duende, who oversees an underground cantina. The thief leads Maria there, and goads her into dancing for the other clients present. When she tries to escape, she is trapped by the men as El Duende holds her down.
9) Miserere Canyengue De Los Ladrones Antiguos En Las Alcantarillas
The Payador wanders, searching for Maria. The denizens of the street sing about Maria’s proficiency as a woman of the night. She enters and plies her trade in front of him. When he moves to her, the thief threatens him with a navaja. The Payador exits as Maria takes the knife and kills the thief.
10) Contramilonga A La Funerala Por La Primera Muerte De Maria
El Duende travels to La Recoleta cemetery, where she meets grieving mothers laying candles on the graves of their children.
11) Tangata Del Alba
Several more mourners enter the cemetery, and watch a pair of strangers tango. El Duende enters, pulling a wheelbarrow containing the corpse of a desaparecido.
12) Carta A Los Arboles Y A Las Chimeneas
Months have passed. Maria enters, now pregnant, and a shadow of her former self. As she navigates through the graves, melancholy ghosts plead with her to join them.
13) Aria De Los Analistas
A group of construction workers, including the Payador, enter and begin demolishing the graves. The workers try to console the Payador, who sings sadly about Maria. She answers his questions from far away.
14) Romanza Del Duende Poeta Y Curda
A mass is being held in the Basilica de Nuestra Senora. Sisters and priests chant under the leadership of the Archbishop, who is El Duende. Maria stumbles into the chapel desperate for sanctuary.
15) Allegro Tangabile
Maria begs for help in the streets, but is mocked when she is recognized by her former admirers. She has a contraction, and El Duende hands her a gun.
16) Milonga De La Anunciacion
Maria is deserted in excruciating pain. The Payador finds her on the brink of death. He takes her away as she goes into labor.
17) Tangus Dei
El Duende and its hungry minions are in their lair, awaiting the delivery of Maria’s child. Three politicians enter bearing gifts for the baby. The Payador reluctantly presents the swaddled infant to the corrupt onlookers. El Duende unwraps the swaddle to find that it holds nothing but dead flowers. El Duende screams as it sees Maria holding the living child.
El Duende - a Latin American “goblin”, prone to mischief, changing its appearance, and bartering with mothers for possession of their children
Payador - an improvisational singer of popular music navaja - Spanish folding blade
Desaparacido - one of the missing, or “disappeared”, victims of Argentina’s Dirty War
- Courtesy of John de los Santos