Obituary: Tania

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IF THE message and the music of tango is a way of life, as many in Buenos Aires like to believe, then the city's passion for its own morose creation is part of the legend that cities make for themselves. "Tania" was one of its most legendary tango singers.

She was born Ana Luciano Divis in Toledo, Spain, in 1901, and left Valencia, where she was known as "La Lucianito", "Tania Visdi", and "Tania Mexican", to arrive in Buenos Aires in 1924, apparently aged 21. She was a member of the "Troupe Iberica", a song-and-dance group performing at the Casino theatre, a night haunt once famous and part of the scene that made Buenos Aires known as the "Paris of South America".

She stayed on in Buenos Aires and became simply "Tania". In 1927, she became the lover of the musician Enrique Santos Discepolo, tango composer and lyricist, the author of some of the most trenchant social comment in the tango spectrum - one of which, "Cambalache", written in 1935, was banned by the dictatorship in 1976. Discepolo called Tania his muse. They didn't marry, but she never left his side until his death at 50, in December 1951.

Tania's career took off in the 1930s, at the Buenos Aires version of the Parisian Folies Bergere (the French name was used). She sang the compositions of all the tango greats, Anibal Troilo, Enrique Cadcamo, Osvaldo Miranda, Homero Manzi, Francisco Canaro, and became a radio star, then toured cities in Spain, France and the United States.

She declined after Discepolo's death, in part because of the political rejection he suffered for having become a supporter of the dictator Juan Domingo Pern and the Peronist regime which was overthrown in 1955. In the 1960s, tango went out of fashion and really did not come back into full popular appeal until the early 1980s, when the fashion spread world- wide.

By then, it was Tania's recordings from the 1930s that became popular listening and part of the legend. And she lived on this legendary appeal to the very end.

Ana Luciano Divis ("Tania"), tango singer: born Toledo, Spain 1901; died Buenos Aires 17 February 1999.