Friday, August 2, 2013

Fado - An Unforgettable Night In Galicia, Spain

Back to my recent trip to Galicia, Spain:


One evening in particular stands out. It was the 24th of June, the night that the moon was so much closer than usual to earth, a good setting for the music I heard that night, a music that pulled emotions closer to the surface of one's heart -- that haunting genre of singing born in Portugal, Fado.


I sat with friends, David and Terry and Marta at the Rectoral de Castillon, a lovely casa rural near Goian and Ferreira that offers fine meals in its unique restaurant as well as lodgings for travelers. My husband and I have eaten there several times with Terri and David. This night, Rajan was home in California, taking care of our ailing dog. Terri and David picked me up, and Marta joined us, for a dinner celebrating Rectoral de Castillon's tenth year in operation. (More information about Rectoral de Castillon can be found below.) But here is a picture of how the tables are set up inside: 



A delicious meal served inside was followed by an evening of song outside.

Space heaters warmed the courtyard where after dinner tables had been set up. The walkway above the stairs to the courtyard had become a stage with lights and amplifiers and a microphone. Two men sat on either side, one with a guitar, the other with a mandolin. Night had fallen (dinners are late in Spain). The stage was bright. The audience was expectant. The fadista, María do Ceo -- a petite woman with doe eyes and a demure smile -- quietly walked to the microphone. She wore a long black gown. A simple black shawl draped over her shoulders. She paused. The audience quieted. She began to sing. 

This was the first time I heard fado, although a writer friend of mine has talked enthusiastically about it for years. I had thought it merely the “popular” music of another country, much like the popular music that dominates our top ten and top forty charts in America. Nice. Cool. Etc. But this was so much more: The pathos in the voice, the phrasing, the nuances, the melody line—they all reach out and transport a listener to another time and place.

Fado is about fate, destiny, about how things can go wrong and what one is left with. Fado is a particular genre of Portugese song that dates back in record to the 1800s, but even earlier by word of mouth. Its roots are in cities, most notably Porto, Lisbon, and Coimbra. It became popular originally among the poor and unfortunate, was sung on the streets and in taverns. There are hints of a Moorish influence. (Portugal has always been a crossroads of cultures.) The music is characteristically sad, nostalgic, full of longing, recalling star-crossed dreams, lost loves, bitter-sweet memories. Its deepest roots reach into the human heart. The lyrics have evolved in modern times into a complex structure as well. Today's Fado is as soulful as the blues, as poetic as a sonnet. It's a genre like no other.




Originally from Porto, Portugal, María do Ceo is very popular in Galicia. (When I mention to my neighbors, Eva and Monolo, that I had heard a wonderful Fado singer, they immediately said, in unison, “¡Maria do Ceo!”) She is also famous throughout Europe and South America. Her voice is particularly expressive, and even though I couldn’t understand a word of Portuguese, I was deeply moved during every song. In the chill air, under a star-glittered sky, her voice told story after story. 
Here are two examples of her performances on You Tube:
Lela  and  Negra sombra  

                                                                                                                                                               You can also visit her bandpage on Facebook and listen to three more songs to get an idea of the full range of her artistry. The disc shown on this page is the disc I bought and brought home for my husband to hear, and he is now a fan.  


Visit, too, Rectoral de Castillon, which hosted this wonderful event:
The hosts are charming, the atmosphere is elegant, the prices are reasonable, and the food is delicious.
 


You can contact them and like them at Facebook

You can also learn more about their lodging accommodations on Trip Advisor

And you can learn more about Fado here and HERE.

What about you? Do you have a favorite musical form that touches you like no other? If you listened to the above songs, did one move you more than the others? If so, which one?


44 comments:

L.G. Smith said...

What a wonderful night, and amid such great surroundings. :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, L. G., yes, it was wonderful, sitting in the open air and listening to such heart-pulling music.

Julia Hones said...

What a cozy place, Elizabeth! I'd like to read this post again. I love all the pictures and how you describe it with all the interesting details.
The woman's name sounds familiar.
It is hard for me to mention a favorite musical form. Jazz is very romantic... but I can't mention a favorite.


Kenda Turner said...

You describe what appears to have been a wonderful evening! I had not heard of Fado before, so you've introduced something new. Thank you. We were in southern Spain last November and you brought back memories of some of the neat things we got to do, too...

Kimberly said...

It sounds like you had such a lovely evening! It all sounds so wonderful. :)

Richard Hughes said...

I'd like to go there someday. Nice post.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Juli! If you have time, go to the sites I mentioned and you can hear a good sampler of Fado.

Hi, Kendra. Where a outs in Southern Spain did you go? We are hoping to see other parts of Spain one of these days.

Kimberly, thanks for stopping by. Yes, wonderful. It was really a magical evening.

Richard, I'll bet you and your wife would love it.

Rosi said...

The music is really haunting. I can see why you enjoyed your evening so much. Thanks for an interesting post.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you visited the other sites to hear the music. And her live performance was even more haunting, she invested such emotion in each song.

Sharon Bradshaw said...

Thank you, Elizabeth, for a lovely post. I haven't been to Portugal so hadn't heard of Fado but it sounds like something I would enjoy. Thanks for the links, I'll listen to the songs later today.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Sharon, glad you liked the post. I hope you do listen to the songs. They are so moving!

Janet Johnson said...

Sounds beautiful! I can't think of a particular genre of music like that for me, but music in general is a powerful influence in my life. Fado sounds amazing!

And what an awesome trip! Thanks for sharing. :)

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Beautiful music and delightful photographs (love the puppy in the doorway.) It was a pleasure to sit back, listen, and imagine myself once again vacationing in Spain and Portugal. Thank you for sharing your experience, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Janet, I'm like you. Music in general is so involving for me, whether opera, rock, fado, blues. I hope you had a chance to listen to the samples.

Hi, Gail, Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad the post brought back your travels in Spain and Portugal.

Lydia Kang said...

I wish I could zap over and hang out with you on these incredible trips! Sigh.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Lydia, you are welcome anytime you can come while we are there. We'll take you to the fiestas.

Margo Berendsen said...

I love learning about cultural details, esp ones with a lot of soul, like Fado - thank you! Off to listen...

Leigh Covington said...

Sounds and looks like a wonderful evening! I love many different kinds of music. It mostly depends on what kind of mood I'm in or what sort of inspiration or comfort I'm looking for.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Margo, I do too. I like the blues for the same reason. And opera! I hope you enjoyed the music when you went to the site.

Hi, Leigh, yes, I like a lot of different types of music (as I mentioned to Margo). Rock, blues, jazz, opera, as long as it has a lot of feeling.

Lynda R Young said...

I'd love to return to Spain one day. Such an amazing country. And yes, I love the music.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Galicia should be added to my bucket list :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Lynda, thanks for stopping by. If you've never been to northern Spain, you have a treat in store. Eventually, we want to travel around other parts of Spain, but we are simply hooked on Galicia.

Optimistic, yes, do add it to your list. It's a different experience than the usual tourist areas.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Lynda, thanks for stopping by. If you've never been to northern Spain, you have a treat in store. Eventually, we want to travel around other parts of Spain, but we are simply hooked on Galicia.

Optimistic, yes, do add it to your list. It's a different experience than the usual tourist areas.

Barbara Watson said...

What a spectacular night! And the photos...wonderful!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, Barbara, I'm glad you liked the post. The photos were sent by Rectoral Castillon and my friend, Terri.

Editors At Work said...

Sounds such a lovely evening. Loved the photos.

Nas

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Nas, glad you liked them. I hope you also took time to hear a sample or two.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have always wanted to visit Spain. Your posts make me eager to travel there :)

Nancy Herman said...

I loved this post, Mitty. You really had me sitting there with you and your friends. And I watched the You Tube videos. Lovely voice, haunting emotion. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rachna, maybe you can visit Galicia sometime when we are there. I think you would enjoy it very much.

Nancy, so glad you liked the post and got to hear the music. That music haunts me. I find myself humming parts of some of the songs when I'm working in the yard.

Peaches Ledwidge said...

Great writing here. It transported me to the place and opened my ears to the song as it played.

Misha Gericke said...

Sounds like a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing it and Fado with us. :-)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Peaches, thank you. When I close my eyes, I still feel transported back. I love that music.

Misha, thanks for stopping by. Hope you got a chance to listen to the music. It's so distinctive.

Donna K. Weaver said...

This looks like you had a wonderful time. Love the pictures. I've been to Ireland and Germany and loved the experiences.

J.L. Campbell said...

Your description of your experience, plus the pictures make me want to be there too.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Donna. Ireland! My husband and I would both love to go to Ireland. We love the music and the literature. So haunting. Actually, Galicia, where we go, has a Celtic history, and some of their music sounds quite Irish.

Joy, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad my post made you feel that way. If you ever go there, you'll want to return! It's that kind of place. I hope you got to listen a little to the music, too.

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks for bringing your experience to life for us and for sharing the links!

Recently I've been listening to Jake Shimabukuro's While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Theresa, I love that song. One of my favorites, although I've only heard George Harrison's rendition.

Nick Wilford said...

Beautifully written post about what sounds like a lovely evening. And the music sounds great.

Carol Riggs said...

That's marvelous! I love music from other countries. I have some Turkish music on a CD I really like, and some Moroccan too. Lovely songs on your Maria do Ceo links! She has a beautiful voice. I think I liked the Lela one better, though they were both very nice.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Nick and Carol, I'm glad you both took time to hear the music.

Nick, it was a beautiful evening. We are going to Spain again soon, and I am going to see if she is performing in the area so that my husband can hear her.

Carol, I've never heard Turkish music. Now I'll have to look into that. (I liked the Lela song too. It seemed to tell a story, even though I don't understand Portuguese.)

Cathy said...

What an incredible experience. thank you for sharing, so we too could taste it.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Glad you liked it, Cathy. I would love to hear another concert. This time with my husband, because he liked the CD I bought very much.

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