Versions of María Bonita

María Félix had a long term relationship with the bolero songwriter and musician Agustín Lara. They married in 1945 and went on their honeymoon to Acapulco. As legend has it, amongst the many songs he was inspired to write “María Bonita” on their honeymoon. They divorced in 1947. Despite this, the song was frequently sung at public occasions in dedication to her. In recent years, it is often use by fans in compilation fanvids dedicated to Félix. This post will be used as a type of archive of versions which means that it will be occasionally updated.

The lyrics to the song can be found here. The opening lines, “Acuérdate de Acapulco” [Do you remember Acapulco] give an indication of the romanticism, nostalgia and longing that characterise boleros. For those who do not speak Spanish, here is a literal (and not very poetic) translated version of the lyrics. Bolero as a term is attached to a musical form in eighteenth century Spain. The Merriam Webster gives a sense of the style of the Spanish form. It has some commonalities with the Bolero in Latin America, but has its own distinct rhythmic and lyrical patterns. The Bolero form that Lara was renowned for originated in Cuba in the nineteenth century. It came into Mexico via the Yucatán peninsula on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, was adopted by Mexican musicians and composers, and in the 1940s and 1950s became popular in the capital city and throughout Mexico.

A version sung by Lara compiled by a YouTuber:

One of the more famous recordings by Pedro Vargas:

Here’s Plácido Domingo in 1987 in Acapulco singing with Félix in the audience:

Julio Iglesias giving his syncopated version:

A contemporary recording by Natalia Lafourcade:

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