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External audio
You may listen to Juan Arvizu performing Alberto Domínguez's bolero Perfidia with the Lorenzo Barcelata Orchestra here

"Perfidia" (Spanish for "perfidy", meaning faithlessness, treachery or betrayal) is a song written by Alberto Domínguez (1911–1975), a Mexican composer and arranger born in the state of Chiapas, about love and betrayal. Aside from the original Spanish, other renditions exist, including English and instrumental versions. The English lyrics are by Milton Leeds. The song was published in 1939 and became a hit for Xavier Cugat on the Victor label in 1940. Desi Arnaz sings the Spanish version in the 1941 film Father Takes a Wife which starred Gloria Swanson. This version was used by director Wong Kar-wai in his films Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, and 2046.

In late 1960 a rock instrumental version of "Perfidia" was released by the Ventures, which rose to number 18 on the Billboard chart. The record was a Top 10 hit on a number of popular music radio stations, including KYA in San Francisco, KLIF Dallas, KOL Seattle, KDWB Minneapolis, WHK Cleveland, KIMN Denver, and KISN Portland. The record topped out at number 11 on the charts of WLS Chicago, and WIBG Philadelphia.

The Ventures version was included on The Original Hits Past & Present, Volume Two, a compilation album released by Liberty Records (LRP 3180) in 1961.

"Perfidia" has been recorded by many artists, including Laurel Aitken, John Altman, Dave Apollon, Juan Arvizu [1], Andrea Bocelli, Brave Combo, Wilbert Alonzo Cabrera, Ray Conniff, Café Tacuba, Chico Che, Nat King Cole, Xavier Cugat, Issac Delgado, Phyllis Dillon, Freddy Fender, Ibrahim Ferrer, Frank Galan, Irvys Juarez & Rhonda Rosales, Ben E. King, Dorothy Lamour, James Last, Julie London, Trini Lopez, Los Panchos, Elvira Quintana, Los Rabanes, Los Straitjackets, Los Tres Caballeros and Javier Solís (in Spanish), Luis Miguel, Glenn Miller, Olivia Molina, Hugo Montenegro, VIS Limunada (in Serbocroatian), Sara Montiel, Nana Mouskouri, Duke Pachanga, Lupita Palomera, Charlie Parker, María Dolores Pradera (in Spanish), Perez Prado, Elvira Ríos, Bud Roman and the Toppers, Linda Ronstadt (in Spanish and English), Alfredo Sadel, the Four Aces, the Shadows with and without Cliff Richard, the Ventures, Mel Tormé, René Touzet, King Tubby, Olavi Virta, Lawrence Welk, and many others.

An English arrangement of "Perfidia" was also the founding song of the Princeton Nassoons, Princeton University's oldest a cappella group.

In popular culture[edit]

  • 'Perfidia' is the title to a chapter of Nora Johnson's 1986 novel Tender Offer. The song highlights the theme of the story's zenith and the actual song is described being played during a crucial scene.[2]
  • 'Perfidia' is the title of a section of Peter Nichols's 2015 novel The Rocks. Several references are made to the song.
  • Perfidia is the title of the acclaimed[3] 1997 novel by Judith Rossner. The song lyrics are quoted several times in the narrative.
  • Perfidia is the name of a James Ellroy novel (2014).
  • Perfidia is a song in the Off-Broadway musical Forever Plaid (1990).
  • The song has also been used as the opening theme to the television show George and Martha.
  • Perfidia was also included on the Dexter soundtrack.
  • Linda Ronstadt's version of the song in English with a Spanish introduction was used in the 1992 movie The Mambo Kings. Ronstadt also recorded the song in Spanish for her 1992 album Frenesí. At the 9th Lo Nuestro Awards, her version received a nomination for Tropical Song of the Year.[4]
  • In Casablanca, Perfidia plays while the characters Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund are ballroom dancing during the famed "flashback to Paris" sequence.
  • In Now, Voyager, the song is played when Jerry and Charlotte are dancing in Argentina.
  • Perfidia is also used in Season 1 Episode 5 of the Netflix show Sense8
  • In Miguel Gomes' 2015 film Arabian Nights various versions of the song are used over the opening credits of each of the film's three volumes, including those by Phyllis Dillon, Nat King Cole and Glenn Miller, as well as another by one of the film's performers Crista Alfaiate.
  • In the film The Mask of Dimitrios, a 1944 film directed by Jean Negulesco, Perfidia plays in a bar scene.


  1. ^ Perfidia interpreted by Juan Arvizu and the Lorenzo Barcelata Orchestra on
  2. ^ Johnson, Nora (1985). Tender Offer. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 176–200. ISBN 0-671-55666-5.
  3. ^ Mason, Deborah. Time Bomb. The New York Times, October 19, 1997. Accessed January 3, 2017.
  4. ^ Lannert, John (March 30, 1993). "Secada Lead Latin Noms Following Grammy Win". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 105 (10): 10. Retrieved January 3, 2013.