Juan García

(1896-1969)

Picture of Juan García

Juan Francisco García Muñoz, artistically known as Juan García, was born on the 8th of March of 1896 in the locality of Sarrión (Teruel) in the Spanish region of Aragón (the same region where Miguel Fleta was born). He was the son of Juan García and Saturnina Muñoz. His father was born blind but this was not impediment for him to conduct a "rondalla" and play the organ in a Sarrión church. .
Juan García received his first music lessons from his father who also taught him to play the guitar and the rudiments of singing. Still very young, Juan was sent to the city of Valbona where his uncle Elías García was the parson. At eleven years old his uncle sent him to the Salesian school in Barcelona where Juan García improved his knowledge in singing, piano and guitar. .
He was very soon known for his beautiful voice and some money was collected by his home town authorities to send him for further studies in Italy. He arrived in Milan in 1922 and studied singing with Arnaldo Galliera. To earn his living he had to work as a painter. .
Juan García's operatic debut took place in February 1925 at the Teatro del Casinò in San Remo, as the Duke in "Rigoletto". He was a success and had to sing several performances of this opera. .
He returned to Spain and on the 31st of May of 1925 he made his debut as Des Grieux in Massenet's "Manon" at the Teatro Tívoli, in Barcelona. The title role was sung by the beautiful French soprano Genevieve Vix. A few days later he was Almaviva in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia", on the 7th of June of 1925, in a cast that included Mercedes Capsir (Rossina), Salvatore Persichetti (Figaro), Gabriel Olaizola (Basilio) and José Fernández (Bartolo). The conductor was Antonio Capdevila. .
Back in Italy, García was engaged by Pietro Mascagni for his Italian Opera Company that had as "first" tenor another Spaniard: Hipólito Lázaro. They sang in Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt. .
On the 14th of April of 1927 Juan García was warmly received in a performance of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" at the Teatro Carcano, in Milan, with Toti Dal Monte (Rossina), Giulio Fregosi (Figaro), Sante Canali (Basilio) and Giuseppe Antonicelli as conductor. .
On the 17th of May of 1927 he sang again Almaviva, now at the Teatro La Fenice, in Venice, with Margarita Salvi (Rossina), Angelo Pilotto (Figaro), Nino Marotta (Basilio), Concetto Paterna (Bartolo) and the conductor Umberto Berretoni. There was another performance on the 24th of May. .
After singing in Bologna, Livorno and Genoa, Juan García returned to Spain and on the 8th of December of 1927 he sang Almaviva at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, in Madrid, with Conchita Supervía (Rossina), Enrico De Franceschi (Figaro), Felipe Romito (Basilio), Carlos del Pozo (Bartolo). It was the first time that in Spain the role of Rossina was sung by a mezzosoprano and not by a coloratura!. .
On the 4th of May of 1929 Juan García sang "Manon" at the Teatro Marín, in Teruel, with Carmen Bau Bonaplata, Galá, Patalla, Giralt and Riaza and on the 5th of May, he sang "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" with Pilar Duamirg. Both were benefit performances for scrofulous children. .
On the 8th of May of 1929 Juan García sang at the Plaza España in Seville, the "Himno a la Exposición de Sevilla", conducted by the author Francisco Alonso. (Collectors certainly know this hymn in the famous version by Miguel Fleta. Unfortunately, García did not record it.) .
On the 14th of September of 1929 he offered a recital at the Coliseo in Torrelavega and later sang at the Teatro Principal (Zaragoza), Teatro Principal and Plaza de Toros (bullring) (Valencia), Bilbao, Santander, San Sebastián and Oviedo. .
Though Juan García was a beloved tenor and enjoyed a nice career he had a strong competition offered by tenors who had the same kind of voice (tenore di grazia): the Italians Tito Schipa, Dino Borgioli, Roberto D'Alessio, Enzo De Muro-Lomanto, Giovanni Manurita, Nino Ederle, Luigi Fort, Aldo Sinnone, Bruno Landi, Piero Menescaldi, Alessandro Wesselowsky, Emilio Renzi and Enzo Perulli, the Greek tenor Cristy Solari, the Australian tenor Lionello Cecil, the Portuguese tenor Tomaz Alcaide, not to mention the Spanish tenors: Tino Folgar, Rogelio Baldrich (in fact Argentinian born), Delfín Pulido, Pepe Romeu, Emilio Vendrell, Juan Rosich and Adolfo Sirvent. .
Therefore, Juan García thought that the "zarzuela" would offer him better opportunities and he accepted the proposal of composer Francisco Alonso to sing the role of Ginés in the first performance (première) of "La Picarona", the 6th of February of 1930 at the Teatro Eslava, in Madrid. It was a triumph for Alonso and for García. The tenor recorded the main parts of this zarzuela for the Parlophon label. .
On the 27th of September of 1930 Juan García sang at the Teatro Campoamor, in Oviedo, a "recital lírico" with the soprano Matilde Revenga. .
The year of 1931 started with his only presentation at the famous Gran Teatro del Liceo, in Barcelona. On the 2nd of January he sang in a special performance for benefit of the Press Association of Barcelona (Festival de la Prensa. Función a beneficio de la Asociación de la Prensa Diaria de Barcelona). The program included the Act II of Massenet’s “Manon” that was sung by the soprano Matilde Revenga and the Greek tenor Cristy Solari. Then it was the first act of “Il barbiere di Siviglia” sung by Juan Garcia and the Spanish baritone Marcos Redondo as Figaro. The conductor was Antonino Votto. It followed a concert of arias in which Juan García also sung, and finally the zarzuela “El Dúo de la Africana” by Manuel Fernández Caballero sung by Matilde Revenga, Juan García and Aníbal Vela. The conductor was Antonio Capdevila.
On the 9th of April of 1931 he sang in a "new" zarzuela. This time it was "La Moza Vieja" by Pablo Luna, at the Teatro Calderón, in Madrid, with Selica Pérez Carpio, Flora Pereira and Aníbal Vela. García sang the role of "Pepe El Riojano". .
The third and last "first" performance of a new zarzuela was on the 24th of March of 1933, "El Ama"· by Jacinto Guerrero, at the Teatro Ideal, in Madrid, with María Badía and Luis Sagi-Vela. García sang the role of "Clemente". .
Of course he sang in many "new" zarzuelas eventhough he was not the "creator" of the role. Such is the case of "La Ventera de Alcalá" by Pablo Luna, "Martierra" by Jacinto Guerrero, "La Meiga" by Jesús Guridi and "La Castañuela" and "La Linda Tapada" by Francisco Alonso. Let alone the "traditional" repertoire like "Doña Francisquita", "Los Gavilanes", "El Huésped del Sevillano", "El Caserío", "Los de Aragón" and "El Dúo de la Africana" (by Manuel Fernández Caballero) where he was specially successful. .
It was in 1933 that the young composer Juan Quintero wrote the music for a beautiful song "Morucha" that would become García's "war horse" in his many theatre and radio concerts. The words of this song were written by the own García and it was first presented to the public after the exhibition of the film "El Danubio Azul" in Madrid's Rialto cinema. The tenor had to sing it three times!! .
This was the opportunity to change, once again in his life, his artistic career. He decided to form his own musical group and with 12 musicians formed "Juan García y su Orquesta" that made his debut on the 24th of May of 1934 in Madrid's Capitol cinema. During more than a year, Juan García and his orchestra succesfully toured Spain and Portugal, singing popular and classical songs, and the "obliged" jotas, the songs of his native land, Aragón. .
In 1935 Juan García acted and sang in two musical shorts filmed in Spain. The first one was "Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Si" , or "La vida privada de un tenor" (The private life of a tenor), with Conchita Leonardo, Amalia Sánchez Ariño and José Martín. The second one was "Corre Mulilla", with the actor Ricardo Núñez. .
The serious political situation in Spain leading to the atrocious Civil War forced Juan García to accept a contract offered by Radio Beldrano in Buenos Aires (Argentina). He left Spain on the 19th of March of 1936 and never returned. In Buenos Aires he started singing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 21:00.
He made of Argentina his second beloved country. There he met and married a French lady, Lucía Ruhliez. Though he never returned to Spain he kept it always in his heart, and Spanish music and popular "jotas" were always present in his appearances. .
In the summer of 1940 he visited Chile, and sang at the Casino in Viña del Mar and in Santiago's theatres and radio stations. He also recorded for RCA in Chile. .
Juan García died in Buenos Aires (Argentina) on the 14th of August of 1969 of a heart disease. .
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JUAN GARCIA'S DISCOGRAPHY

The tenor recorded 212 sides for different companies. In 1925 he made 8 records for "Regal" (Spanish Columbia). His biggest output was for Parlophon (Spain): 179 records. For "La Voz de su Amo" (H.M.V.) he made 12 records and for Odeón, 7 records. His last 8 records in Spain were for Columbia. As we have already said, in Chile he recorded 6 songs for R.C.A. Víctor. It seems that his last record was the theme song from the Spanish film "Marcelino, Pan y Vino" composed by Pablo Sorozábal and recorded for RCA in Buenos Aires, in 1955. .
Juan García recorded only two opera arias: "Se il mio nome" from "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" (with guitar played by the tenor) and "Il sogno" from "Manon". Though his recorded output was mainly sung in Spanish, he also sang "Panis Angelicus" (César Franck) in Latin, and the Italian songs "Vieni sul mar", "Mattinata" (Leoncavallo) and "Notturno d'amore" (Riccardo Drigo's Serenade). He recorded many zarzuela arias and duets. They included "La Picarona", "La Moza Vieja" and "El Ama" but lots of other as well. He recorded two songs by the Chilean composer Osmán Pérez Freire: "Ay ay ay" and "El delantal de la china". He made records with songs from contemporary films like "El Danubio Azul", "El Congreso se divierte", "Desfile de candilejas", "Gloria que mata", "La Canción del Día" (the first Spanish sound film, with music by Jacinto Guerrero), "El precio de un beso" (a film with José Mojica) and "El Canto del Ruiseñor" (the first musical biography of tenor Julián Gayarre, with tenor Pepe Romeu heading the cast). He recorded several "tangos": "Rinconcito", "Río, ríe", "Ella", "No te rías" and mainly "Cicatrices" (by Adolfo R. Avilés) that has the rarity of García playing himself the guitar. Several songs by American composer Mabel Wayne: "Ramona", "Chiquita" and "En un pueblito de España". Composers F. Ledesma ("Mujer morena" and "Corre, mulillla") and José Luis Mediavilla ("Coqueta", "Mi tierra", "La noche en la aldea") wrote songs for him. Also, waltzes, pasodobles, blues, zortzicos, Catalonian songs and many, many popular "jotas" from his native land, Aragón. He sang "A mi madre" (by Juan Quintero) in memory of his mother, and "A mi cieguecito" (to my little blind man), dedicated to his blind father.

JUAN DZAZOPULOS E., MARCH 2008

Juan García sings Il barbiere di Siviglia: Se il mio nome, with Garcia playing the guitar
In RA Format

Juan García sings Morucha
In RA Format

Juan García sings La Terolana
In RA Format

Juan García sings La Picarona: Canto a Segovia
In RA Format

Juan García sings El Ama: Mala estrella la mía
In RA Format

Juan García sings La Picarona: Madrigal-De una mujer cuando llora
In RA Format

Juan García sings Seven Spanish Popular Songs: Jota
In RA Format

Juan García sings Ay ay ay
In RA Format

Juan García sings Un Barberillo Alegre
In RA Format
I would like to thank Juan Dzazopulos biographical notes, picture and recordings (Morucha, Barbiere di Siviglia, La Picarona, El Ama, Ay ay ay, Seven Spanish Popular Songs, and La Terolana).
I would like to thank Vladimir Efimenko for the recording (Barberillo Alegre).

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