DES157 Vacations Spring2019_readerspread_FNL (1)

Cultural Experiences

FADO: Portugal’s seafaring explorers shaped the destiny of many nations. The essence By Debra Smith Lisbon’s Bittersweet Obsession

of a sailor’s lonely and perilous life is reflected in the heartfelt songs of fado, Lisbon’s music of the soul.

PORTUGUESE TRADITIONAL GUITAR

where sailors came to drink away their sorrows during the Age of Exploration. From the 15th to the 18th centuries, Portuguese ships sailed to Africa searching for a route to India, to the North Atlantic for cod, and to China, Japan and the Americas for trade goods, until eventually they circled the globe. There are hints of the stories that were woven together through fado across Portugal at some of its most popular sites. In the rough and tumble alleyways of the Mouraria and Alfama districts near the harbour, the cultures of many countries blended with the lingering Islamic influences of the Arab occupation to produce a rich mélange of food, drink and music. The flat-backed Renaissance- era lute arrived with English wine and wool traders to become the teardrop-shaped Portuguese guitar. The first well-known fado singer or fadista , Maria Severa Onofriana, used it while singing her way from the streets to become the paramour of the Count of Vimioso before her early death in 1846.

Under the domed stone ceilings of the O Faia restaurant in Lisbon, diners happily chat over meals of salted cod and beef tenderloin while glasses of green Portuguese wine sparkle in the candlelight. Slowly, the overhead lights dim, and a time- honoured announcement is heard: Silence; fado is about to be sung. A hush falls over the bustling restaurant as Anita Guerreiro steps into the spotlight. Dressed in black, she slowly raises her head and begins to sing. She has no microphone. She is accompanied, in the traditional manner, by two guitar players, Fernando Silva, on a 12-string Portuguese guitar, and Paulo Ramos, on acoustic guitar. And also, by the audience – through their silence and appreciation, they become part of the performance. They lean in to listen to songs of love and laughter, sorrow and saudade (longing) and fado – fate and implacable destiny. The origins of fado are as clouded as the smoke-filled bars of Lisbon

A KEYBOARD MADE OF STAIRS IN THE ALFAMA DISTRICT OF LISBON ©DEBRA SMITH

30 • Vacations ® • Spring 2019 FADO PERFORMERS CAPTURED IN BRONZE IN FRONT OF THE CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION IN LISBON ©DEBRA SMITH

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