13 May 2012

Day 2 in Lisbon

Now I understand why, during our year in Lisbon, I did not keep a continuous blog: there is simply too much happening to cover, and there is certainly not enough time to do everything we'd like to do.

Last night we met a friend in the Alfama to hear some fado--destination unknown. We simply could not decide where to go: we wanted a decent dinner, plus fado, but did not want to pay 30+ euros per person for the privilege. He suggested dinner at a local restaurant, one that our friend, Tô Lisboa, knows well. We entered and to our surprise, there in the corner, was the great guitarist José Pracana. José Pracana has been in the fado for a long time (see this evidence and a short biography in Portuguese). The last time I met him was also by accident: on a plane from Boston to the Açores. Also in the restaurant was the viola player José Nunes.
José Pracana (l) and José Nunes (r)
After a short conversation with Sr. Pracana, he and Sr. Nunes played a Coimbra fado (sung by Sr. Nunes, see the video below), then a young woman sang "Os meus olhos são dois círios", then a short guitarrada. Sr. Pracana told me that he is going to be taking part in the second fado festival of Madrid. The program looks excellent: they are showing two films by Diogo Varela Silva (Fado Celeste and O Rei Sem Coroa). I covered some of his work in a recent article in the Luso-Americano. Sr. Pracana is going to be giving a lecture/demonstration on the fado, addressing music, lyrics and instrumentation. Lots of other great stuff is going to be happening. I hope to meet with Sr. Pracana during the coming week, so perhaps there will be more information.

Next stop was Sr. Fado, where the musicians were Eduardo Rodrigues (guitarra portuguesa) and Duarte Santos on the viola. Duarte began the evening with an explanation of the fado (in English) for the audience, most of whom were not Portuguese. He discussed first the instrumentation of the classic set-up, then the "traditional" versus "musical" fado. Unfortunately, I was not able to record this mini-lecture. If I can get Duarte to recount it for me, watch for the post here. The singers we heard were our friend, Tô Lisboa, then Oudete Miranda, Nuno de Aguiar, and Ana Marina.

[video to come in the next day or so]

Now what? Tô and Nuno de Aguiar left for the Tasca do Chico in the Alfama after they sang. By the time we walked by there, it was too full to bother trying to enter. The Grupo Sportivo Adicense, up from the Esquina d'Alfama, was having a fado night, so we stopped there (the last time I was there it was to hear Rodrigo, courtesy of the super-duper fado fan. João Braga (gp) and Chico Borges (v) were the musicians. We heard Inês Ribeiro, Rui Costa and Alice Nunes. As we were arriving, there was some arguing over the order of singing, and a couple of fadistas left in a huff. Floating in the background the entire time was Zé António.

During the break, Artur Batalha walked in. It's hard to describe what happens to a room like this when a very established fadista enters. The place got a little bit quiet. As everybody around here knows, with the closing of Os Ferreiras, Batalha no longer has a regular gig. That's a lot of talent floating around, waiting to land. The super-duper fado fan (doesn't sing, doesn't play, knows all fados and fadistas, is always there at the right place and the right time) leans over to me and says, "Batalha. My favorite." Somebody managed to corral Batalha and Zé António into a photo. I saw my chance and jumped. These two singers have a common history but diverging paths.

Artur Batalha (l) and Zé António (r)
Date Unknown
May 2012

We were then put in a tough predicament. But as we left we heard somebody say something like "Batalha was going to sing for a couple of friends, but they just left, so no." Thinking that Batalha would be singing, we came back. However, the next singer was not Batalha but Vítor Rodrigues (who I really like). We stayed for his three fados then left. So, we'll never know whether Batalha sang, or what, or the heights he reached this time.

New flash! The videographer 4FadoLisbon has posted two videos of Batalha from last night, along with those of a number of others. The videos are here and here. The other videos are also good (e.g., here is Quim Cigano). <

Taxi home, and that was the end of the night.

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