Wednesday, June 24, 2015

An Evening of Fado and a Fadista to Remember

 One of the great traditions of Portugal is the unique music called Fado. I first heard Fado two years ago in Galicia, when Maria do Ceo sang at a  restaurant in a casa rural. (I blogged about her singing HERE and HERE.)

My next Fado discovery was the great Fadista, Marisa da Luz, in Braga, Portugal.

By the time my husband and I went to Braga last year to do research on a book I am writing, we were both hooked on Fado, and we especially wanted to find a place where we could hear it. We lucked out! Mercado das Tapas offers Fado every Thursday evening and a wonderful selection of tapas, as well as that great potato and kale soup called Caldo Verde.

At Mercado das Tapas, various Fadistas perform, but when we went last year we were fortunate to hear Marisa da Luz. We liked her so much that, when we knew we were going again early this month, we requested her. There are many things that make her such a good Fadista: To begin with, she has a beautiful voice with quite a range. But she also pours such feeling into her songs, they wring your heart.

There are cheerful songs in Fado, but the majority of songs deal with life, one's soul, fate. Fado has been called the Portuguese equivalent of American Blues, and to some extent, that's true. But to me the melodies are more complex and take one by surprise. Some tell a story. Some are philosophical. Some simply express the sadness of loss at a high level of poetry. Some of the lyrics are taken, in fact, from the poetry of one of Portugal's greatest and most mystical poets, Fernando Pessoa. Normally a Fadista is accompanied by two or three musicians. One or two will play guitar, and the remaining one will play a Portuguese guitar, which sounds very much like a mandolin.

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Fado is an art form like no other, and Marisa da Luz's voice and delivery rise to the demands of it. We predict that she is a rising star Fado lovers will hear of more and more.

Elegant and dramatic
She was the main singer of the evening, but three men took turns singing Fado, too, as many Fadistas are men, and this seems to be tradition.

Beautiful voice.

Great feeling
The humorous one.
As it turned out, it was Marisa da Luz's birthday, and she was celebrating it with her friends and family. Graciously she shared some champagne with us, and she let us take pictures of the party, as well as a couple of pictures with them! And with her! A very cordial, down to earth lady.
The woman behind me on your
right is one of the owners.

She gave us champagne!

A wonderful group of people as
you can see.

I was really honored.

Thank you, Marisa da Luz, for an inspiring evening full of wonderful song.

Next week: Some of our favorite places in Braga, and a wonderful tour guide.

Meanwhile, what is your favorite music to listen to? Have you heard Fado? If so, do you like it?


Geo. said...

What a wonderful post! I learned here. You may know I was born on a truck farm along the Pocket of the Sacramento River. I am half Portuguese and have always associated that long-ago music with a word, saudade --which I thought referred to a nostalgia for something that never existed, an idea that, as a child, always intrigued and slightly depressed me. My great-grandparents settled in Babel Slough in the 1850s, so my understanding of the Fado was greatly diluted. You and your account of pleasant encounter with Marisa da Luz and other workers in the art form have taught me much and I am grateful. Obrigado.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I'm so glad it opened up that world for you, Geo. We love Fado. And saudade is exactly what it is about: longing,

Natalie Aguirre said...

How awesome your husband and you both enjoyed this music. And how cool it was Marisa's birthday the day you saw her.

Carol Riggs said...

What a great experience! I love listening to all sorts of music, and I would like to hear this kind of music some day. Thanks for the fun post and photos.

Mark said...

Wow that looks fun:) Looks like you're having a blast!

Rosi said...

It sounds like you and Rajan had a very special, lovely evening. How nice for you. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Natalie, thanks for stopping by. Yes, I'm glad my husband likes Fado as much as I do. It's wonderful to sit together listening to such emotional music. And it was real serendipity that the evening turned out to be Marisa's birthday.

Carol, I can send you some You Tube links that I think you would enjoy.

Rosi and Mark, it really was a lot of fun. A very special evening indeed. Those songs still play in my head. Fado is like that.

Tanya Reimer said...

Your pictures capture the emotions. bravo!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya, I think one of the things I like so much about Fado is the emotions they convey. The emotional aspect in the voice is crucial. When a fadista starts singing, they just zap the heart.

Anonymous said...

Just had to say I finished Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls and loved it! I put my review and rating on Goodreads and heading over to Amazon. Great Job, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks so much, Catherine. I'm so glad you like Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls! It was great fun to write, and it's been getting a good response.

S.P. Bowers said...

I'd never heard of Fado. It sounds amazing though. Thanks for sharing and teaching me.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, S. P. It really is a lovely art form. If you go to YouTube and type in Fado, you'll be able to see and hear some wonderful examples. Special names to look for: Mariza, Amalia, Anna Moura, Camine. It's worth the peek. Have a great day.

cleemckenzie said...

I love fado. Heard some wonderful voices and songs in Portugal. They sing beautifully. Seems you had a great time.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

HI, Lee, thanks for stopping by. Portugal is a mesmerizing place. I love the people. And, as you can see, I love the music!

S.P. Bowers said...

Thanks! I'll give them a try.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! That sounds like an enchanted evening!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hello, Tyrean. Enchanted evening! That pretty well sums it up. I like that!

Weaver said...

Fun. Love all the pics. I've only been to Germany and Ireland. I'd love to see more of Europe. I want to do it on a river cruise someday.