Saturday, October 7, 2017

An Evening of Fado, and More


Ever since I first heard Maria do Ceo sing Fado on a summer night four years ago, at Rectoral de Castillon, a "casa rural" in Galicia, I've been a fan, both of Maria do Ceo and of Fado. (You can read my post about it HERE )  

The following spring, 2014, when my husband and I went to Braga, Portugal for the first time, a friend at the hotel suggested other famous Fado singers we should hear — Mariza, Amalia, Anna Moura — and we've both been hooked on Fado ever since.

So it was our special good fortune that fall to meet a Fadista in Braga, Mariza da Luz, and   
become friends with her. Since then we try to see her perform every time we go to Braga. (We had started going to Braga for research on a mystery I've written that is set in Braga.)
     
 

                                       
     

                                                           
                                                                        
                                                                    
                                                                               
                                                                
                                                                      
                                                                         
                                                                            


Last week was no exception. Originally we had heard her sing at a restaurant, but Saturday we heard her and several others sing at a dinner put on by a Fado Association. As you can see, Fado is emotional and expressive, pulling a listener into a different world — and the singer, as well. Traditionally a fadista is accompanies by two guitars: an acoustical guitar and a twelve-string  Portuguese guitar (which somewhat resembles a bouzouki with its bowl-shape, although they are not identical by any means.)


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Not every member of the association is interested in Fado as a career; some are simply aficionados who took turns singing during the dinner. All of the voices were good, though, and the ambience of the evening was full of hearty good will and a deep love of Fado. (Nearly everyone in the room could sing the chorus of every single song.)  


















I'm always comparing Fado to opera, especially the serious/somber Fado, the Fado that dwells on fate and thwarted destiny. If you were to take one of the serious operas  and cram the essence of it into one aria, you'd have the depth of emotion and the lyricism of Fado.
But, like opera, Fado has a comic counterpart as well, and the gentleman at the far right in the top row sings these humorous Fados (although, as our friend, Marisa, pointed out, they often have a subtle serious overtone as well, inspiring the sort of chuckle that can fade with too much thought.)
                 
                  Too soon, it was over. At the end of the evening, all the singers gathered for final applause and photos.



Meanwhile, earlier in the day, a young man at Centésima Página, the bookstore/eatery we love to visit, told us a great deal about well-known fado singers and the history of Fado. He introduced us to a CD of Fadistas from Coimbra, a city famous for its male fadistas. The recordings are old and "tinny", in that they were recorded back in 1928, 1929, 1930. But all of the voices shine, their  power and expressiveness evident.  I've mentioned that Fado reminds me of opera, and this CD showed the operatic power of their voices. We left the store with a bag of CDs to enrich our musical library. As I have said before, I can never leave a bookstore empty-handed (even if it's CDs).

                                         Centésima Página - "The 100th Page"
                                  You can see the "100" in the window)

How about you? Do you like Fado? Opera? What is your favorite music? Do you love book stores and music stores?






16 comments:

Rosi said...

Glad you are enjoying your travels.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, Rosi. This was especially enjoyable for us. Every time we go, we learn a little more about Fado, Fado tradition and history, and Portuguese history and literature. Just a real wealth of education that resonates afterwards.

Sandra Cox said...

What a lovely evening, Elizabeth. It sounds like you've discovered some very powerful music.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Sandra. Powerfully moving, that's for sure. It's a kind of music that lingers in the mind. There are certain Fados that, once the melody starts up in my head, I can't shake it for hours, sometimes it even repeats for days. It's such an interesting art form.

Suzanne Furness said...

I love bookstores and usually come out clutching a purchase or two! I haven't heard of Fado, I don't really have a favourite sort of music although I went to a Jazz session yesterday evening which was good. Glad you are enjoying your travels.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Suzanne. There really is something about a bookstore, isn't there! And a library. If I go to the library, I'm equally likely to leave with a bagful of books. If you enjoyed a jazz session, you might like Fado. Some modern Fado is starting to go a little "jazzy". Mariza is a good start for that. And Ana Moura. Check them out.

Julia Thorley said...

I've never heard of Fado, so I've just had a little trawl through YouTube to find some examples. Portuguese is a very strange language and the 12-string guitar looks a real challenge.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Julia, thanks for stopping by. Portuguese is a challenging language, to say the least: lot's of nasalized consonants as well as vowels, gutturals and rolled r's. But it's a beautiful language. I agree that the Portuguese guitar looks like a challenge. Some of the accompanists to Fado play it so brilliantly. It's a lovely art form.

Jessica Lawson said...

I'm not positive that it's Fado she sings, but I've had a Cesaria Evora CD for years that I listen to over and over. I love her. Fado has similarities to flamenco music. When I lived in Spain, one of my favorite things was seeing live Flamenco cante y baile. So beautiful and haunting!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jessica. I actually don't know if Evora is a Fadista. I'll have to look into that. My husband and I are always happy to find new Fado singers. We both also love Flamenco dancing and singing and sometimes watch excerpts on YouTube. We would love to see and hear live Flamenco one day. lucky you to have had that experience!

Vicki Lane said...

What a wonderful opportunity! I saw a program on fado once and loved the sound.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Vicki. Yes, it's such a unique art form. The more I hear it, the more I love it. Glad you found it a sound you loved.

DMS said...

What a fantastic experience and trip! I don't typically listen to opera and don't think I have hear Fado- though now I am quite curious about it. :) So happy for you that you were able to have such a special night.
~Jess

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jess. I'm glad if I made you curious about Fado. You can hear some great examples on YouTube of Mariza, Anna Moura, and, although she has passed on, "the Queen of Fado", Amalia. I hope you will check them out.

Nas said...

Sounds like a fantastic experience! So awesome!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Nas, Thanks for stopping by. Awesome is the word. It was like being part of their world. We loved it. I'm curious: Are you a Fado fan?