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Perdigão Queiroga’s Film, Fado, História d’uma Cantadeira: Construction and Deconstruction of the Fado Novo [1]

Michael Colvin

Abstract. This article proposes Perdigão Queiroga’s film, Fado, História d’uma Cantadeira (1947) as an allegory for the evolution of the fado castiço into the fado canção, as a consequence of the professionalization and internationalization of the artist under the 1927 Decreto-Lei 13 725. The protagonists follow two trajectories that lead them in opposite chronological directions. Their journeys reflect an ideological schism among 20th-century fadistas: tavern vs. salon. As Ana Maria (Amália Rodrigues) moves away from the tavern, her fado seems alien to the residents of Alfama, as it becomes lighter and more appealing to national and, even, foreign audiences. Júlio Guitarrista (Virgílio Teixeira) abandons the guitarra in a symbolic search for the fado castiço, in the fado vadio of the drunkards and in the song’s possible roots in the African lundum.

Because of Portugal’s neutral position during World War II, Lisbon attracted European exiles and American soldiers; the capital and its Coast of Estoril welcomed deserters, sailors, spies, and toppled monarchs. In this privileged Lisbon of the early to mid-1940s – politically distant from the compromised Continent - the fado novo would be heard for the first time, en masse, by international audiences.[2] The “canção de vencidos" which had become the “triste canção do sul" and, shortly thereafter, the “canção do sul" would be Portugal’s “canção nacional" exported to a non-Lusophone public.[3] No longer was the fado novo a monotonous lament of poor vagrants; rather, it had become a lighter song appreciated by all classes in all regions of the Nation.[4] The fado had fled the degraded popular neighborhoods of Mouraria and Alfama to accompany musical theatre, to dominate national radio and to become the soundtrack to Portuguese cinema of the 1930s and ’40s.[5]

Yet, the fado novo’s social, cultural and geographical mobility faced criticism as fadistófilos questioned the song’s relationship to its 19th-century heritage, associated with Lisbon’s ruffians and prostitutes. As the once marginalized song pervaded all strata of Portuguese society, it became lighter and musically richer: no longer characteristic of the plaints of an impoverished urban class.[6] The fado seemingly had buried its roots. It was no longer the musical outcast; rather, it had become the standard of Portuguese folklore.[7]

Perdigão Queiroga’s film, Fado, História d’uma Cantadeira (1947) narrates the genesis of the fado novo - from the professionalization of the fadista to the internationalization of the artist - and presents its evolution as detrimental to the tradition of the 19th-century fado.[8] The movie’s Hollywood-esque rags-to-riches-to-rags plot, in which love conquers the temptation of money and fame, disguises the film’s more important and critical sub-text in relation to the history of the fado. In Queiroga’s tale, the fado castiço of the urban working class triumphs over the fado canção of the bourgeoisie, by returning to and rejecting the fado vadio of the 19th-century rufias. The film thus proposes stagnancy at a moment prior to the institutionalization of fadistice as a profession, yet posterior to the shunned fado choradinho of Lisbon’s fadista class. Queiroga’s critical proposal recognizes the fado novo’s evolution from bawdy urban expression to national song. By repelling foreign influences on the fado –particularly samba, flamenco and Hollywood soundtracks - and by leaving the fado batido in the 19th century, the movie presents a fado, pobrete mas alegrete, belonging to the working class of Lisbon’s popular neighborhoods.

While the action of the film takes place over a period of several months in the late 1940s, deliberately the narrative presents a series of anachronisms that signal key periods in the history of the fado. As Ana Maria’s (Amália Rodrigues) ascent to international stardom reflects the diachronic evolution of the fado novo in the 20th century, Júlio Guitarrista’s (Virgílio Teixeira) reticence towards the professionalization and consequent internationalization of the novo-fadista signals an anti-social regression to the early 19th century and threatens a return to the fado’s precursors in the 18th, as a means to preserve Lisbon’s song.

The film appears to follow the trajectory of Amália Rodrigues’s career, and thus seems contemporary to its release date in 1947; yet, the narrative’s anachronisms allow us to conclude that the film must be an allegory to the genesis and evolution of the fado novo.[9] However, in order to understand such narrative progression/regression, we must examine the plot as two story lines that depart from the same axis, move in opposite chronological directions and, finally, intersect in the same spot where they start. I propose that the film follows two chronologies that are contrary to each other; yet, they exist in parallel succession. The alluded narrative spans the first half of the 20th century, while referring to the second half of the 19th, after Maria Severa’s death in 1846. It remits us to the fado batido of a Lisbon on the heels of the return of Dom João VI’s court to the Continent, and even hearkens the conjectured African origins of the fado, in the late 18th century.[10] Ana Maria’s chronology progresses to the late 1940s’ exportation of the fado novo while Júlio’s regresses to the fado’s questionable Afro-Brazilian roots in the lundum.[11] The film’s ending, however, signals a return to the sad fado menor, in Alfama, prior to the internationalization of the artist. The fadista and the guitarrista meet up in the popular tavern, thus recognizing the caprice of their odyssey, as Ana Maria sings: “Bom seria/ Poder um dia/ Trocar-te o fado/ Por outro fado qualquer."[12] And the lyrics render the lovers impotent to their fate: “A gente já traz o fado marcado".

We may view the first scene at Joaquim Marujo’s (Vasco Santana) tavern, in which Ana Maria sings “O Fado de Cada Um", as the matrix of our chronologies. Because this fado is repeated during crucial moments throughout the film and appears at its end, when Ana Maria and Júlio Guitarrista reunite, its relevance to the movie’s plot is evident. The lyrics of the song presage the contrary direction of the protagonists in their exploitation of the term fado as both the musical genre and fate: “Bem pensado/ Todos temos o nosso fado/ E quem nasce malfadado/ Melhor fado não terá".[13] Ana Maria’s fado menor becomes so distorted into fado canção that it is confused with opera and, finally, becomes flamenco. Júlio abandons the guitarra, not to practice the fado batido; rather, he escapes in the drunken vadiagem of the fado vadio. And while Ana Maria and Júlio appear to have different fates – hers as an international star and his as a rufia - they share their destiny in the final scene, in which Júlio recovers his guitarra and Ana Maria her ability to sing the menor: “Fado é sorte/ E do berço até à morte/ Ninguém foge por mais forte/ Ao destino que Deus dá."

In the first tavern scene, the character of Chico Fadista (António Silva), draws our attention to the relevance of the “Fado de Cada Um". He declares: “A Maria do Rosário morreu mas não morreu de tudo." Although we understand that Chico refers to Ana Maria’s mother, who was a famous fadista in Alfama, we must not ignore the covert allusions to Maria Severa who sang at the Rosária dos Óculos tavern in the Mouraria, and, therefore, was Maria da Rosária. When Ana Maria puts flowers on her mother’s grave, the tombstone reveals that Maria do Rosário died in 1931: the same year that Leitão de Barros’s A Severa debuted and, consequently, was born the fado novo.[14] Furthermore, the photo of Amália Rodrigues – hanging on the wall behind Chico - dressed as Maria do Rosário, in a black dress with a white lace shawl on her head reminds us of the 19th-century fadista. Maria do Rosário represents a figure lodged somewhere between sin and piety: characteristic of the 20th-century vision of the 19th-century fadista.

Chico Fadista announces that the fado that died with Maria Severa is being reborn in the fado novo. Nevertheless, the 19th-century fado died, and therefore the fado novo of the 1930s signals an abortive rebirth of the song. Chico Fadista’s introduction of Ana Maria to the audience, thus, is prescriptive. Ana Maria’s fado is not Maria do Rosário’s fado just as Amália Rodrigues’s fado novo is not Maria Severa’s fado batido.[15] By presenting the two trends in the fado, spanning a period of over one hundred years, Chico Fadista establishes the relevance of the alluded fados in “Fado de Cada Um" as he foreshadows the two different paths that our protagonists will take in order to understand the evolution of the fado novo, only to return to the same point of departure at the end of the film.

Chico Fadista’s character, therefore, marks the historical significance of the starting and ending points in our film’s chronology. Chico facilitates Ana Maria’s exportation from the crumbling, working-class Alfama neighborhood to a cosmopolitan Lisbon. He is a middleman between the artist and his/her art. He represents a new trend in the fado, contemporary to the 1927 Decreto-Lei 13 725, that requires that agents contract artists; that there be a compulsory inspection and approval of the artist’s repertoire; and that singers and musicians carry professional licenses (carteira profissional).[16] Chico’s character is comical in his calculating avarice and exaggerated underhandedness. He reveals accidentally his lucrative goals to translate Ana Maria’s musical notes into bank notes, as he seduces the young fadista with the promise of fame: “o público, os aplausos […] os dez por-cento." While Chico is not the obvious villain of our story, certainly, Ana Maria and Júlio Guitarrista observe him with caution. He is the progressive Lisbon of Avenida da Liberdade that encroaches on the village-like atmosphere of Alfama, threatening the latter’s quaint innocence with the ebullient worldliness of the former.

The initiation of Decreto-Lei 13 725 and the consequent professionalization of the fadista and the musician coincide with the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa’s first plans shake Lisbon’s image as Portugal’s dirty, abandoned capital (França 98). The urbanization of the neighborhoods to the west of Alcântara, the new design of the Parque Eduardo VII and Avenida da Liberdade and the widening of Rua da Palma into Avenida de Almirante Reis prompted the demolition of Mouraria and Alfama in the name of hygiene and progress.[17] The fado houses of Alfama and Mouraria were closing rapidly between 1926 and 1940 and moving westward to Bairro Alto, Praça de Alegria and Avenida da Liberdade.[18] The professionalization of the fado promoted the decency of the new venues by shunning the appearance of prostitution and vagrancy long associated with the fado in the taverns and bordellos of the popular neighborhoods.

Chico’s exporting Ana Maria from Alfama signals the CML’s taking the fado out of the Mouraria and Alfama; it is the transplant of that quaint fadista Mouraria and Alfama to the new, cleaner capital. When Júlio and Ana Maria return home from her debut at the tavern, just after her first contract negotiation with Chico Fadista, we spy in the background an American sailor as he peeks in and out of the doorways of the bairro, searching unsuccessfully for the prostitutes of an extinct Alfama.

The wholesale sanitization of Alfama as the quintessential folkloric Lisbon neighborhood is evident in the chatter of the producers and critics (Reginaldo Duarte and José Zenóglio) as they consider how they will market Ana Maria’s image. Producer, Sousa Morais (Tony D’Algy) suggests: “O cenário típico com muito sabor à Alfama. Depois já veremos.�? They will take Alfama out of Alfama, yet they will preserve it as folklore. When the new star appears on stage, symbolically singing “Fado, Não Sei Quem És,�? she steps out of a giant guitarra lodged in a theatrical recreation of Alfama: a cardboard reconstruction of the convergence of the Escadinhas de Santo Estêvão with Rua dos Remédios.[19] The stage set signals the artificial folklorization of that Alfama/ Mouraria that must yield to progress: Alfamas and Mourarias destroyed and reborn caricatured in the fado novo. The modernization of Lisbon will take the fado with it and leave behind the fado novo and synthetic reproductions of a picturesque, fadista Alfama, suitable for a tourist’s tastes.[20] In such a context, the last strophe of Ana Maria’s fado is more poignant: “Meu sonho/ Quero acordar/ Volver/ De novo ao fado e sofrer/ Porque sofrer é viver/ E eu vivo e sofro a cantar." As Ana Maria’s fado novo is bastardized for mass audiences, Alfama traditions are threatened by the impending aesthetics of folklore.

The fado’s primacy in national folklore dates to the 1890s, when the song began to accompany light Portuguese theatre.[21] The apogee of the musical review and nacional-cançonetismo (in film) in the 1930s and ’40s coincided with the opening of Lisbon’s first nightclubs and the debut of its neon signs, on Avenida da Liberdade and Praça de Alegria/ Parque Mayer (França 98). The primitive tableaux of the cegadas of the 1920s ceded to the pre-World War II musicals that featured Lisbon’s most celebrated fadistas: Maria Albertina, Maria Alice, Berta Cardoso and Hermínia Silva. The revista portuguesa breathed new life into the fado, by elevating its status. The audience was no longer looking down on the despicable fadista – resident of the slums of Mouraria, Alfama and Madragoa-; rather, it looked up to stars who were fadistas who played the roles of such fadistas. Lisboners were comfortable knowing that at the performance’s end, the fadista would cease to be the risqué Ermelinda Peixeira, the tragic Rosa Enjeitada or the pathetic Maria Severa. When Chico contracts Ana Maria to sing in musical theatre, he manifests the definitive break between the 19th- and 20th-century fadistas: the promotion of the novo-fadista as an actor who plays the role of the folkloric 19th- or early 20th-century fadista.[22]

If we interpret the film as a simple love story, we may understand Chico’s launching Ana Maria into musical theatre as a wedge between her and Júlio. Chico’s plans for Ana Maria relegate Júlio to the periphery of her stardom; eventually, they exclude him. Júlio appears jealous and Ana Maria, solicitous to his pride. In fact, when she tries to convince Júlio that her professional license will make them both happy, he retorts resentfully: “A nossa felicidade não tem nada a ver com isso."

But is Queiroga’s leading man so one-dimensional? I propose that Júlio Guitarrista represents the fado’s tradition the face of modernity. While he appears conflictive, jealous of Ana Maria’s stardom and suspicious of Chico Fadista’s and Sousa Morais’s designs on the singer, really he is advocating the preservation of the 19th-century fado despite its inevitable demise in the fado novo. In the scenes preceding Ana Maria’s debut, Queiroga cements Júlio’s characterization as Ana Maria’s supportive lover. Júlio defends Ana Maria’s right to sing in tascas and retiros when his father (José Víctor) protests.[23] Júlio rehearses with Ana Maria and teaches her to sing the fado castiço. Furthermore, it is Júlio who convinces Ana Maria to honor her contract, when she vows never to sing again after having maimed Júlio’s daughter (?), Luisinha (Aida Queiroga), by throwing her in the way of a runaway barrel of wine.[24] “A culpada foi eu," insists Ana Maria: “eu e a minha vaidade do fado. É a sina que Deus me deu. Mas acabou-se. Eu nunca mais canto."

Nevertheless, in these episodes, Júlio’s role as the old guard of the 19th-century fado, recalcitrant to the bourgeois fado novo, manifests in his relationship to his props, to Ana Maria and to the resigned conviction with which he delivers his lines. As his father criticizes the fado’s coming out of the seedy underground of Lisbon’s popular neighborhoods, we spy Júlio in his workshop dismantling a guitarra. While Júlio’s father reminds us of the fado’s association with Lisbon’s criminal class, in the 19th century, Júlio begins his odyssey to search for the roots of the fado, by deconstructing his instrument - an innovation to the fado, dating to the 1840s - to return to an era when the fado was accompanied by viola and beaten on the palms of the hands.[25]

The gesture of the artisan, who is also a guitarrista, who reduces the guitarra to dissembled, insignificant pieces of wood marks Júlio’s relationship to his instrument throughout the film. When Ana Maria auditions for Sousa Morais and the producers of the musical, Jardim das Canções, she asks Júlio to play a happy fado: “Dá-me um Beijo."[26] As Ana Maria triumphs in the light fado canção, we observe Júlio as uneasy with the guitarra. He glances nervously at Ana Maria, frustrated by the alien fado. In his rehearsal with Ana Maria, Júlio taught her to sing the fado rigoroso: mourarias, corridos, dois tons and menores; therefore, the tempo and tone of the fado canção perturb and overwhelm him.

We have mentioned that in the production of Jardim das Canções, Ana Maria emerges from a giant wooden reproduction of a guitarra. The stage design, therefore, signals the fado novo’s distance from Severa’s fado batido; fado and guitarra will be inextricably linked to each other for the rest of the 20th century. As Ana Maria becomes more famous, however, the guitarrista recedes from the foreground. The singer appears on stage and the fado canção’s guitarras are complemented by string orchestras and pianos. In fact, when Ana Maria sings at the Spanish embassy, she is accompanied neither by guitarra nor viola.

Júlio is no longer visibly the guitarrista; we are aware that he accompanies Ana Maria, yet he never appears on stage with her. When finally we see him with a guitarra, he is closing it in its case: shrouding it in its tomb. At that moment Júlio abandons the guitarra and questions Ana Maria’s talent as a fadista, as he tells her: “Já não sabes cantar.�? We are reminded of the slightly ridiculous scenes of Virgílio Teixeira’s teaching Amália Rodrigues to sing, as she fakes singing badly “Só à Noitinha."[27] Thus we interpret Júlio’s reproach as: Ana Maria cannot sing the fado castiço; she has abandoned it for the fado canção.

Júlio’s criticism of Ana Maria’s ability to sing the fado proves to be both reflective and prophetic. While his insult appears to be motivated by stylistic preferences or generic tastes, Júlio indicates the censoring of Ana Maria’s fadista voice in the professionalization of the artist. During five scenes in the film, Ana Maria’s will to sing fado is compromised: she is hushed; forced to sing; she sings when she is not singing – through radio broadcast-; she is coerced into betraying the national song, by singing flamenco; and, finally, she cannot finish her fado menor.

Upon returning home after Ana Maria’s debut at the tasca and having been seduced by Chico Fadista’s grand plans for the vedette, Júlio and Ana Maria sing the “Fado de Cada Um," outside Luisinha’s window, to lull her to sleep. Júlio’s mother interrupts the singer by closing the shutters and reminding her that it is late. The gesture of silencing the fadista, and, in effect, silencing Alfama’s fado, foreshadows the censoring of Ana Maria’s voice as a professional artist. She may no longer sing freely on the streets of Alfama, rather she may and must sing only when and where her contract stipulates.[28]

Singing fado ceases to be Ana Maria’s vocation and singing the fado novo and the fado canção becomes her profession. She is bound by a legal contract and her art is compromised by the legislation of Decreto-Lei 13 725. We have mentioned that after Ana Maria causes Luisinha’s crippling, and eventually fatal accident, she resigns to sing never again the fado. However, Júlio Guitarrista, convinces Ana Maria of her legal obligation to her contract and thus she is compelled to sing for Chico Fadista.

The diachronic evolution of the fado into the fado novo of the twentieth century becomes apparent in the scene in which Ana Maria, Luisinha and the neighbors listen to the fado on the new radio. Ana Maria has gone from pre-1927 uncontracted singer in a local tasca to post-1927 professionalized artist. When Luisinha returns from the hospital, she, her family, her neighbors and Ana Maria sit before a radio to hear Ana Maria sing “Fado, Não Sei Quem És".[29]

The film presents the novelty of the technology and, simultaneously, the fado novo’s marriage to the Emissora Nacional, as a result of the 1920s’ launching of Rádio Colonial, Lisbon’s first radio station. The 1933 official inception of radio signals the definitive migration of the fado novo from Lisbon to Portugal.[30] While the expression “cancão nacional" is tossed around by both supporters and critics prior to the 1930s, in an effort to imbue or purge the Portuguese character with/ of the fado, the national broadcast of the fado novo, during and after the 1930s thrusts the song on all corners of the Nation, thus determining Portuguese musical tastes for four decades.

The appearance of the radio in Queiroga’s film, however, also serves to draw our attention to another example of Ana Maria’s censorship as a result of her professional contract. Before Luisinha goes into the hospital, Ana Maria sings for her upon request. When Luisinha returns from the hospital, Ana Maria does not sing for her; rather, they listen to her, played back on the radio. The circumstances of the scene signal the abhorrent commercial nature of the fado novo. Ana Maria, once again, may not sing at will. Her voice, however, is available for the Nation, at the whims of her producers and agents. The fadista is forced to sing for an impersonal public, and therefore, deprived of the intimacy of singing for friends and neighbors. The scene echoes the lyrics of “Duas Luzes", the fado, that Ana Maria practiced with Júlio in an earlier episode: “Eu gostaria mãezinha/ De cantar p’ra ti somente/ Mas tu és tão pobrezinha/ Que canto p’ra toda a gente".[31] The contractual nature of the post-1927 fadista’s performance and the massive, depersonalized character of the post-1930s radio broadcasts of the fado promote the national song at the expense of the art. This new face of the fado is scrutinized when Ana Maria confesses that she revels in the adoration of her fans; Júlio responds scornfully: “Aplaudem é a mulher não a artista".[32]

Ana Maria’s first foray into international stardom consists of her performance at the Spanish Embassy, in Lisbon. The humble fadista from Alfama appears dressed as a lady of high society at a ball. When Sousa Morais presents Ana Maria to the Spanish Ambassador (Paul Carvalho) and his guests, he announces: “A grande fadista, Ana Maria, vai cometer uma traição ao fado e cantar uma canção espanhola". She sings “No me quieras tanto" accompanied by an orchestra.[33] Ana Maria has ceased to be a fadista, or even a Portuguese singer; the price of her professional license is artistic treason. The Ambassador’s guests are uncertain of the musical genre that Ana Maria is singing. A refined older woman asks her friend if she is listening to fado or opera; the friend explains that they are listening to flamenco.

Ana Maria triumphs as a Spanish singer at the expense of the fado. When she returns to Alfama, dressed in an evening gown and diamonds, to kneel before the dead Luisinha, she tries to sing the menor, “O Fado de Cada Um". Upon the lines: “E do berço até à morte,�? Ana Maria is overwhelmed with grief and cannot finish her fado. The episode remands us to the earlier scenes in which Ana Maria sings the same fado, accompanied by Júlio. She was not overcome with emotion; the audience perceived communally the catharsis of the fado menor: the collective reality of the lines: “Todos temos o nosso fado". On the contrary, beside Luisinha’s deathbed, Ana Maria does not evoke sympathy for her mourning. Rather, the neighbors resent her intrusion; as they exit, they look upon the elegant singer of foreign songs with deprecation.

Júlio returns to the tasca where he transforms into a mid-19th-century fadista. He fights with a drunkard (Pestana Amorim) who responds by flashing a knife. The camera focuses quickly on the blade and pans to pause on the bloody stain of a spilled bottle of wine. Júlio has become the caricatured ruffian of Alfama’s Limoeiro prison or the Mouraria’s “Rua Suja". He ceases to be a rational, yet passionate man to assume the role of a despicable anachronism: a vagrant who avenges insult with violence. He is the Count of Marialva, infected by Capelão’s lawlessness, in Dantas’s A Severa. He becomes Severa’s real-life lover, o Chico de 10, who slit the throat of his amorous rival. He is Josezinho de Alfama, who stabbed a Galician; or perhaps his common-law wife in African degredo, Maria Petiza, who tried to stab Josezinho.[34]

Júlio abandons his career as a musician to become a fadista, in the pre-1849 definition of the term: “pessoa que cumpre um mau destino; seja homem ou mulher, prostituta ou rufião" (Pimentel 43). In a similar manner, Ana Maria is no longer a fadista, but a singer for a society alien to the reality of the tascas of Alfama and Mouraria. Their positions reflect the ideological polar extremes of the 1923 fadista’s union schism: tavern vs. salon.[35]

As Júlio returns to Alfama, walking through the streets of Ribeira Velha, the “Fado da Saudade" plays mockingly on a violin: “Eu canto o fado para mim/ Já o cantei para nós dois/ Mas isso foi no passado"; and thus draws our attention to the forsaken guitarra and the absent lyrics relevant to Júlio’s resentment towards Ana Maria: “O [fado] mais feliz é o teu/ Tenho a certeza/ Não é o fado da pobreza/ Que nos leve a felicidade/ Se Deus o quis/ Não te invejo essa conquista/ Porque o meu é mais fadista/ Meu fado da saudade".[36] The musical arrangement complements the scene following the lovers’ encounter on the steps. Júlio pushes Ana Maria out of the way and the embittered singer walks away from Alfama as a symphonic version of “Fado, Não Sei Quem És" taunts her, reminding us that she has forgotten the fado: forgotten Alfama.[37]

Ana Maria resolves to marry Sousa Morais and to take the fado to Brazil. Her decision marks the contemporary internationalization of the fado when, in 1945, Amália Rodrigues goes to Rio de Janeiro to record her first record. Júlio plans to go to Africa. Symbolically, he continues the trajectory of the 19th-century fadista: expiation in degredo. Or perhaps he is seduced by the fado’s vague African provenance in the late 18th-century lundum.

As Júlio prepares to depart he returns to the tasca and, between wiping away tears, he plays the “Fado de Cada Um". Upon learning from Lingrinhas (Eugénio Salvador) that Júlio will go to Africa, Ana Maria decides to abandon her plans to marry the rich producer. She returns to sing the fado menor with Júlio. The lovers fail to fulfill their odysseys of searching for the fado’s speculative birth and death: respectively, lundum and fado canção.

The fado menor triumphs over the fado canção and the fado vadio that separated the lovers. Júlio is once again a guitarrista and Ana Maria a fadista. She takes the black shawl from Júlio’s mother’s shoulders: a gesture of reverence to the ghosts of severas of the previous century and complicity with the neighbors of Alfama. With a tearful smile, Júlio keeps up with Ana Maria’s abruptly changing tempo. And it is the verse of the “Fado de Cada Um" that Ana Maria does not sing that best narrates her fateful resignation to defy the seemingly inevitable modernization of Alfama and the fado: “No meu fado/ Amargurado/ A sina minha/ Bem clara se revelou/ Pois cantando/ Seja quem for/ Adivinha/ Na minha voz soluçando/ Que eu finjo ser quem não sou".


    [1] Perdigão Quieroga’s (1916-1980) Fado, História d’uma Cantadeira (1947) spent 26 weeks at the box office, beating the Portuguese record of a 22 week-long screening of Armando de Miranda’s Capas Negras (1947) (Bénard da Costa 84). Capas Negras and Fado were the only Portuguese films to be seen by more than 100,000 spectators (nearly 200,000 each) prior to 1980 (Bénard da Costa 67-68).

    [2] Well before World War II, the Lisbon fado had been heard and criticized by foreigners who had visited the capital. Luís Moita cites several international reactions to the fado prior to 1936, and characterizes foreign criticism of the song: “Até aqui as impressões produzidas em alguns estrangeiros pelo fado quando êle saiu surrateiramente, das vielas de Lisboa, dos postes de rádio da Capital ou dos seus ‘caldos de cultura’ e foi surpreendê-los galgando a fronteira, com doridos vómitos, catitas e empoladas estrofes" (188). Sucena remarks that, in the 1920s and 1930s, some foreigners visited the Solar de Alegria, but that at that time: “[Nos] locais onde se cantava o fado, predominavam os apreciadores e entendedores que não deixavam servir-lhes gato por lebre" (126).

    [3] In 1936, Luís Moita coined the phrase “canção de vencidos" to describe the fado as plangent and nostalgic, thus remitting us to the hyperbolic account of King Sebastian’s defeat at Alcácer-Quibir accompanied by three hundred soldiers and ten thousand guitarras. In 1903, Alberto Pimentel had written A Triste Canção do Sul, complemented by his As Alegres Canções do Norte (1905). The fado magazine A Canção do Sul (1923) borrowed Pimentel’s descriptive title. By 1904, Júlio Dantas, Alberto Pimentel and Pinto do Carvalho had considered the fado’s role as the national song.

    [4] The fado’s status as national song was challenged during the first four decades of the 20th century by António Arroio (1909), Afonso Lopes Vieira (1929) and Luís Moita (1936). Avelino de Sousa defended the fado’s role as national song by arguing its appeal to all classes, in O Fado e os seus Censores (1912).

    [5] The Fado’s association with cinema dates to Maurice Mariaud’s O Fado (1923), based on José Malhoa’s painting (1910). Portugal’s first talkie, Leitão de Barros’s adaptation of Júlio Dantas’s A Severa, was filmed in France in 1931. Canção de Lisboa (1933) was Portugal’s first domestic talkie; in the movie, Maria Albertina sings a mouraria and Vasco Santana sings the Fado de Estudante. The fado appears in the films: O Gado Bravo (1934), Maria Papoila (1937), Aldeia da Roupa Branca (1939), Varanda dos Rouxinóis (1939), João Ratão (1940), O Pai Tirano (1941), O Pátio de Cantigas (1942) O Costa do Castelo (1943), A Menina da Rádio (1944), Um Homem do Ribatejo (1946), Capas Negras (1947), Sol e Touros (1949), Vendaval Maravilhoso (1949), Madragoa (1950), Rosa de Alfama (1953), April in Portugal (U.K. 1955), Les Amants du Tage (France 1955), Lavadeiras de Portugal (1956), Sangue Toureiro (1958), O Miúdo da Bica (1963), A Última Pega (1964), Fado Corrido (1964), Bonança e Companhia (1969), Mystic Pizza (U.S.A. 1986), Terra Estrangeira (Brazil 1990), Tudo isto é Fado (2002), Passionada (U.S.A. 2003) and Os Imortais (2004). For more on the fado’s role in musical theatre see Santana, Sucena and Vieira Nery. For more on the fado on national radio, see Sucena, Porto and Vieira Nery.

    [6] António Arroio comments: “O Fado, o nome diz, nasceu nos centros de maior abominação; a maneira de o cantar é o conjunto mais completo e ridículo dos erros estilísticos, de faltas de bom gôsto. Mas também só assim tem côr própria, local; modificado ou estilizado diversamente, perde todo o valor e fica reduzido à sua eterna e pobre harmonia, sempre a mesma, sempre docemente sensual e deprimente. Para que pois cantá-lo, quando tantas riquezas de ordem superior abriga o cancioneiro nacional?�? (O Canto Coral e a sua Função Social 220).

    [7] Sucena comments: “Por 1930 o fado antigo (em que predominara a quadra improvisada e depois a quadra glosada ao sabor da inspiração dos cantadores) estava a chegar ao fim" (213).

    [8] The schism reflects the 1923 ideological divide between singers that resulted in the establishment of two professional unions: The Grémio Artístico do Fado, who hoped to elevate the fado by singing exclusively in salons; and the Grupo Solidariedade Propaganda do Fado who argued that the song be sung only in taverns (País de Brito 145).

    [9] João Bénard da Costa argues that the plot of Fado was loosely based on a mythic biopic of Amália’s life, from her poor roots to international fame (84). While I do not wish to interpret the film as Amáilia Rodrigues’s biography, I must recognize the importance of the fadista’s role in the internationalization of the fado novo. Therefore, I view Ana Maria’s flight to Brazil to coincide with Amália Rodrigues’s visit to Rio de Janeiro, where she recorded her first records in 1945, thus bringing the fado novo to the Americas. Amália Rodrigues says of the biographical affinities between herself and Ana Maria: “Jogaram um bocadinho como sendo um filme que contava a minha vida. Eu não disse nada, para que não pensassem que eu não queria que se falasse nisto ou naquilo. Mas não tem nada a ver com a minha história, a não ser que casei com um guitarrista e vendia fruta. De resto a minha mãe nunca cantou o fado, não fui criada no bairro de Alfama, só fui criada pela minha avó, aquilo do empresário a dar-me as coisas todas não tem nada a ver comigo" (Pavão dos Santos 81).

    [10] Rui Vieira Nery does not believe that the return of the Royal Family, from Rio de Janeiro, in 1821 has played a crucial role in the diffusion of the fado among the poor urban classes. Rather, he argues that the servants, slaves, sailors and soldiers who accompanied the returning Court were in the social position to introduce the fado in Lisbon’s popular settings (59-60).

    [11] Luís Moita and, much later, José Ramos Tinhorão argue that the fado has derived from modinhas and lunduns. However, we must consider the former’s campaign to denationalize the fado by associating it with Afro-Brazilian music; and the latter’s will to accredit Brazilian court society, prior to and during D. João VI’s flight to Rio de Janeiro, with the mainstay of 20th-century Portuguese folklore. Moita’s and Tinhorão’s views on the provenance of the fado reflect popular beliefs. Fadista, Odete Mendes comments: “Desde criança eu oiço dizer que o fado veio do Brasil. Dizem que foram os escravos que o levaram de Africa para o Brasil e depois veio nas caravelas trazido pelos marinheiros para a Mouraria" (Castro d’Aire 39). However, when Ramos Tinhorão presented his arguments in Lisbon in 1994, some fadistas were not convinced of the fado’s Afro-Brazilian ancestry. João Braga comments: “Um senhor chamado Ramos Tinhorão […] veio do Brasil para nos dizer que o Fado nasceu lá em 1830, o que é, evidentemente, um disparate" (Castro d’Aire 65). Carlos do Carmo remarks: “[Tinhorão] veio aqui a Lisboa apresentar um livro que practicamente dá como seguro que o Fado terá nascido no Brasil e terá sido dançado […] Pelo menos até hoje, não me parece que se possa afirmar nada de categórico sobre as origens do Fado. Fica sempre este mistério, o que lhe dá também um certo fascínio, penso eu" (Castro d’Aire 119-20).

    [12] “Fado de Cada Um": Silva Tavares/ Frederico de Freitas.

    [13] For more on the acception of fado as fate see Mascarenhas Barreto, Fado: Origens Líricas e Motivações Poéticas, Maria Luísa Guerra, Fado: Alma de um Povo and Leite de Vasconcelos, Etnologia Portuguesa. Alberto Pimentel explains that the term fado, as a musical genre, did not derive directly from the Latin fatum (fate); rather, it came from the slang term fadista: “pessoa que cumpre um mau destino; seja homem ou mulher, prostituta ou rufião" (43). Pimentel bases his speculation on the appearance of the word fadista to describe a social class in the Mysterios do Limoeiro (1849) prior to any evidence of the existence of the words fado or fadinho to describe the popular song (43).

    [14] I attribute the birth of the fado novo to the reincarnation of Maria Severa in Dina Teresa Moreira’s portrayal of the Mouraria fadista in Leitão de Barros’s 1931 filmic adaptation of Júlio Dantas’s A Severa. Manuel Halpern classifies the generation of young fadistas of the 1990s and 2000s as novos fadistas. However, Rui Vieira Nery cautions: “O fado de Maria Severa, nos alvores da década de 1840, era por certo um ‘novo Fado,’ relativamente à dança cantada dos terreiros e salões do Rio de Janeiro" (Halpern 14).

    [15] Amália speaks about her role as Severa in the 1955 production of Dantas’s play at the Teatro Nacional: “Como não havia ninguém para me dirigir, andei uns dias a ensaiar de pernas abertas, à Severa, mas não havia maneira de acertar. Aquilo da mulher de pancada alta, pêlo no braço, lume no olho, não tinha nada a ver comigo. Passados os quinze dias quis vir-me embora […] Resolvi ficar e fazer uma amaliazada. Chamei a Severa a mim. Eu sabia lá como era a Severa!" (115).

    [16] Vieira Nery attributes the professionalization of the fadista to Decreto-Lei 9761, of 4 June 1924, which proposed compulsory licenses for dramatic artists. The law distinguished between the licenses for actors, songwriters and singers. Decreto-Lei 13 564, of 6 May 1927, authorized licenses for public venues where fado was sung; censored programs of indecorous themes; and imposed professional licenses on singers (188). For more on Decreto-Lei no. 13 725 of 3 June 1927, see Sucena and Macedo de Sousa (213; 42).

    [17] The 70-minute silent documentary, Melhoramentos Citadinos (1931) tracks some of Lisbon’s projects for urban rehabilitation between 1926 and 1930, including the paving of Avenida da �?ndia and Avenida de Belém and the controversy over the construction of Parque Eduardo VII. The film addresses briefly the issue of necessary projected demolitions, for the sake of safety and hygiene, in Alfama and Ribeira Velha. The documentary’s optimistic title reflects both CML and public sentiment about urban development in Lisbon in the years preceding Duarte Pacheco’s term as President of the CML and Minister of Public Works.

    [18] Sucena tracks the opening of fado houses in Bairro Alto, Parque Mayer and Praça da Alegria in the wake of the demolition of the Mouraria (126-132).

    [19] “Fado, Não Sei Quem És": Silva Tavares/ Frederico de Freitas.

    [20] Zé Manel’s cartoon in Parada da Paródia (16 November 1961) addresses the fado novo’s sanitization of both the tasca and the milieu of the fadista. A group of well-dressed English tourists arrive at the doorway of the Tasca do Zé where three drunkards are standing. The young man among the group of tourists explains: “Não se atrapalhem! Tem mau aspecto, mas é a casa de fados mais típica que eu conheço.�? In 1974, António Osório comments: “A Alfama e a Mouraria estão longe de ser o que foram, ‘bastiões de fado’ e da fadistagem a sério (são hoje bastiões do turismo e dos seus restaurantes típicos)" (118). Osório’s observation still applies to Alfama, but not to Mouraria which is inhospitable to massive tourism.

    [21] The fado and the caricature of the fadista had appeared in the Portuguese musicals Ditoso Fado (1869) and Triste Fado (1872). In 1873 João Maria dos Anjos and an array of musicians and fadistas gave a concert at the Casino Lisbonense.

    [22] Vieira Nery signals Júlia Mendes and Maria Vitória as the first fadistas to work as stage actresses during a period when only professional actors appeared in the revista (180). Amália Rodrigues preferred the atmosphere of the theatre to that of the fado house: “Sempre gostei mais de cantar em teatros do que em casas de fado ou boites. No teatro há um palco e um público à frente. Numa casa de fado o público está em cima de nós. Como sou tímida, prefiro a distância. E acho que um artista se sente melhor com uma grande quantidade de público ao ouvi-lo. Um teatro inteiro a bater palmas dá muito mais prazer. É um espectáculo, enquanto uma casa de fados não tem espectáculo�? (Pavão dos Santos 65). She adds: “Estar no teatro para as pessoas do fado era uma promoção�?(Pavão dos Santos 65).

    [23] Amália Rodrigues remembers: “Houve pessoas da família da minha que até deixaram de falar aos meus pais por eu cantar o fado. Até o meu avô, que era tão meu amigo, não gostou" (45).

    [24] Luisinha’s relationship to Júlio is unclear. The girl lives with Júlio’s mother, Mãe Rosa (Emília Villas), yet she appears to be the surrogate daughter of Ana Maria and Júlio. In the first scene of the film, the characters behave as a traditional nuclear family and thus confound Luisinha’s origins.

    [25] For more on the role of the guitarra in the evolution of the fado, see Pimentel, Pinto de Carvalho, Sucena, Vieira Nery and The Museu Casa do Fado e da Guitarra Portuguesa, in Lisbon.

    [26] “Dá-me um Beijo": Silva Tavares/ Frederico de Freitas.

    [27] “Só à Noitinha (Saudades de ti)": Silva Tavares/ Frederico de Freitas. Amália explains the genesis of the rehearsal scene: “A sequência do ensaio dos fados fui eu que a inventei, porque achei que havia ali uma falha, que o meu papel e o do Virgílio Teixeira não tinham graça nenhuma. Se ele era guitarrista e ensinava a rapariga a ser cantadeira, tinha mesmo de ensinar. Não era só falar nisso. E então, inventei aquela lição de fado que na altura, disseram que era o melhor do filme. Eu faço lá umas variações, canto mal de propósito, depois canto melhor, para se ver que estou a aprender, digo umas coisas que as pessoas acham graça. Sim, porque o filme entre os dois não tem graça nenhuma!" (Pavão dos Santos 82).

    [28] We may observe a biographical coincidence between Ana Maria’s naïveté and Amália Rodrigues’s ignorance of professionalism and the implications of a contract for a working fadista. Amália speaks of her early years of singing in retiros: “Não há dúvida que era mesmo um bocado ingénua. Por isso, logo quando comecei a cantar, tive um problema com os contratos. Quando me estreei, assinei um contrato com o Retiro da Severa como artista privativa. Ganhava quinhentos escudos por mês e trabalhava uns dez dias, porque ninguém cantava todos os dias, o elenco mudava sempre. Então, o Solar da Alegria veio convidar-me e eu, como tinha uns dias livres e não percebia nada dos contratos, aceitei. E como ainda tinha dias livres, assinei outro contrato com o Luso, que também me tinham vindo convidar. Mas não cheguei a cumpri-los, porque assim que os outros me anunciaram, altou o Retiro da Severa, a dizer que eu tinha assinado com eles um contrato de artista privativa, o que era dizer exclusividade. Até fui chamada julgo que à Inspecção dos Espectáculos. Mas viram que eu tinha feito aquilo ingenuamente, que como tinha dias livres me dispunha a ganhar em três lados. Se me tivessem deixado, tinha andado toda contente a cantar o mês inteiro. Se este ‘golpe’ não tem falhado, estava rica" (Pavão dos Santos 47).

    [29] Amália Rodrigues remembers her early bradcasts on radio: “No Retiro da Severa a publicidade foi toda boca a boca, feita pelo público, mas pegou como um rastilho porque ninguém lá chamava a atenção para mim. Às vezes, ia lá a Emissora Nacional para transmitir o espectáculo. Por isso, de vez em quando eu também era ouvida na radio." In the film, Ana Maria’s character hears herself on the radio. Amália explains, however, that her agent, José de Melo would not allow her to record an album for fear that the public would not come to hear her sing if they could hear her at home: “Nunca me deixou gravar, porque O Valentim de Carvalho fartava-se de andar atrás de mim. Eu via as artistas mais conhecidas com um disco e também queria ter, mas ele dizia-me que se as pessoas me tivessem em casa nunca mais me iam ver nos retiros. Por isso é que só gravei os primeiros discos em 1945, no Brasil. Porque estava longe e nem pensava que os discos cá aparecessem" (Pavão dos Santos 53).

    [30] The first Portuguese radio station, Rádio Hertz, appears in 1914. In 1923, ORSEC broadcasts in Porto; in 1924 Rádio Lisboa/ Rádio Colonial is founded in the capital. In 1925 CT1AA, CT1DH and Rádio Condes appear in Lisbon and Ideal Rádio and Rádio Porto in the Cidade Invicta. In 1928 Rádio Clube da Costa do Sol (Rádio Português) and Rádio Acordeon broadcast in Lisbon, followed, in 1929, by Rádio Sonora (Voz de Lisboa) and Rádio Motorola. The 1933 appearance of EN, the Emissora Nacional, the voice of the Estado Novo, plays a significant role in the regular diffusion of the fado novo (Estrela v1: 86-87). Between 1937 and 1959, Rádio Clube Português hosts live broadcasts of fado (Sucena 214).

    [31] “Duas Luzes": Siva Tavares/ Frederico de Freitas.

    [32] Amália Rodrigues comments on the attention from her fans in the early stages of her carreer: “Tinha muitos admiradores, mas acho que confundiam muito o sucesso da artista com o sucesso da mulher" (Pavão dos Santos 56).

    [33] “No me quieras tanto": Quintero y León/ M. López Quiroga.

    [34] For more on these 19th-century fadistas, see Pinto de Carvalho.

    [35] See note 7.

    [36] “Fado da Saudade": Silva Tavares/ Frederico de Freitas.

    [37] Júlio’s violence towards Ana Maria further cements his transformation into a 19th-century fadista.

    Works Cited

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    Michael Colvin is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Marymount Manhattan College. He is the author of the book Las últimas obras de José Donoso: Juegos, roles y rituales en la subversión del poder (Madrid: Pliegos, 2001) and the articles: “Sousa do Casacão’s ‘Fado da Severa’ and Júlio Dantas’s A Severa: The Genesis of National Folklore in the Death of a Mouraria Fadista" in Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies (v12: 2006); “Cannibalistic Perspectives: Paradoxical Duplication and the mise en abyme in Clarice Lispector’s ‘A menor mulher do mundo’", in the Luso-Brazilian Review (v41.2: 2005); and “Gabriel de Oliveira’s ‘Há Festa na Mouraria’ and the Fado Novo’s Criticism of the Estado Novo’s Demolition of the Baixa Mouraria", in Portuguese Studies (v20: 2004). His current research examines the problematic relationship between the lyrics of the Lisbon fado and the aesthetics of Portuguese Fascism.

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