The Only One Forever: Rita Montaner

The Only One Forever: Rita Montaner

Heritage & Traditions

By Alina Veranes

With the name of Rita Aurelia Fulceda-Montaner Facenda, on August 20, 1900, a mulatto girl was born in Havana, neighborhood of Guanabacoa.

Over time, she would shine in the firmament of Cuban art as the only one, indisputable virtue that always accompanied her. Every April 17, the date of her death in 1958 in Havana, her compatriots continue to revere this super-great of the Cuban stage, a privileged lyrical voice who walked with great ease through such select genres as opera and zarzuela and popular, like comedy sketches or beautiful Cuban songs.

They say the family environment was very conducive to developing the talent of that little girl who began studying piano at the age of 10 and obtained recognition in her performance three years later.

But she loved to sing, more than the keyboards and soon left everyone in awe with the great value of her voice. At the time of her early death, a victim of cancer, Rita was at the top of her profession, with very important recognitions in Spain, France, the United States, Mexico, Buenos Aires and many other cities and countries of the world, where she arrived with her exquisite and select art, so Cuban.

The decade of the 1920s was a decisive initiation stage for this artist, who from the beginning seemed to be cradled by the gods. Names of composers as outstanding as Gonzalo Roig, Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes, Eliseo Grenet, Moisés Simons, Luis Casas Romero and Ernesto Lecuona, who were closely linked to its evolution, always on the rise. Ms. Montaner caught our attention because of her exquisite voice timbre, which caresses the ear, as well as because of her great confidence in attacking high grades of her unbeatable school."

So wrote about her Alejo Carpentier. Wherever she performed, from then on, in elite places like New York or Paris, she shone like a star. She had relevant performances in Mexican and Cuban cinema and on Cuban television and radio. She created her own style, the extraordinary Rita.

And according to the critics, she had the great merit of having specialized in the interpretation of folklore, "qualified by some as barbaric and inelegant", along with the interpretations she made of the classics.  Authentic, telluric and rooted, Rita Montaner lives.