Note from BW of Brazil: In order for any non-Brazilian to truly understand the soul of Brazil, one must know at least a little something about the musical style known as Samba. With its roots in Rio de Janeiro and Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions, Samba is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival. It is considered one of the most popular Brazilian cultural expressions and is an icon of Brazilian national identity (1). The musical history of this genre is loaded with some of the all-time great songwriters, a list simply too long to discuss here. Among current popular figures is the beloved singer/songwriter Arlindo Cruz.
Cruz started out in the popular band Grupo Fundo de Quintal by replacing another long-time great, Jorge Aragão. Playing banjo cavaquinho in the band for 12 years, he was a leading singer/songwriter along with Sombrinha, with whom he would later form a partnership that would last until 2005. 450 of Cruz’s songs have been recorded by various artists (2) over the years and today he remains ever popular as a solo artist. Cruz’s influence and way of capturing human emotions in such a melodic manner was the motive that sparked the idea to create a stage musical inspired by many of his great songs. This is BW of Brazil’s second post featuring a musical with its basis in the Samba. To get more of the flavor of the most Brazilian rhythm as well as Arlindo Cruz, be sure to check out his music in the videos posted at the end of this article.
Quando a Gente Ama brings the sambas of Arlindo Cruz to the stage
by Mr. Hinnes and the newsroom of Rede Globo
Yes, the samba also has stories to tell. And why not love stories? It was this kind of thinking that led director and playwright João Batista to take to the stage ten short stories, packed songs by samba singer/composer Arlindo Cruz. The songs sing and tell the meetings and clashes of couples of various possible types. With every song, a story, with every story the way the characters deal with this overwhelming feeling and sometimes fulminant.
“The intention was to launch a different look on the idea of Brazilian music, using as a starting point the work of this composer. I’m already a big fan of Arlindo’s work for some time and had thought about how to make a tribute to him, I decided to do it this way: creating these stories where one perceives his music present in the everyday lives of these people, from their relationships, the comings and goings of couples,” says João Batista.
The title of the piece is taken from one of the verses of “O que é o amor” (What is love), and brings more famous songs from his repertoire such as: “Ainda é tempo para ser feliz” (There is still time to be happy), “Você é o espinho e não a flor” (You are the thorn and not the flower) and “Casal sem vergonha” (Shameless Couple) among others. Set in a roda de samba (samba circle), the musical features a cast of exclusively black actors including Cris Vianna (in her debut on the stage), Édio Nunes, Milton Filho, Patrícia Costa, Vilma Melo, David Junior, Jéssica Moraes and Wladimir Pinheiro.
Note from BW of Brazil: This last point is very important. Please refer to note 3 in the footnotes section.
“Each actor plays different characters in different stories. I, for example, have a comical scene and in another I slit my wrists, for example, and these short stories are inspired by the songs of Arlindo bringing loves of all kinds and phases. Beginning, ending, resuming …”, says actor Wladimir Pinheiro.
In actress Cris Vianna’s view, “The show mixes what we hear in the songs of Arlindo with my experiences. For example, there’s a song that talks about reconciliation, so I thought of a story on this topic that would fit.”
The musical is a project of the Cia Dramática de Comédia (Drama of Comedy Company), directed by João and that has 20 years of experience. The musical direction and arrangements are by Marcelo Alonso Neves (winner of the Prêmio Shell or Shell Award for As Cochambranças a Quaderna), scenography by Doris Rollemberg, the lighting of Renato Machado, costumes and choreography by Mauro Leite and choreography of Dani Cavanellas. Quando a gente ama runs until December 22 at Teatro Sesc Ginástico in Rio de Janeiro.
(See snippets of the musical in the video here)
1. Cited from Wikipedia
2. Cited from Wikipedia
3. This point should be emphasized for two reasons. One, the near invisibility of black actors on Brazilian television. Save for the occasional mini-series such as Suburbia, Cidade dos Homens, Ó Paí, Ó or Antônia (with the latter three also being films), the black presence on Brazilian airwaves is extremely limited and stereotyped. And two, the Brazilian small screen avoids black romantic couples as if it were a plague which seems to suggest elite continuous adherence to the ideology of the embranquecimento, or whitening, of the population.
Arlindo Cruz – O Que é o Amor
Arlindo Cruz – Ainda é Tempo pra Ser Feliz
Arlindo Cruz – Vocé é O Espinho E Não A Flor
Arlindo Cruz & Sandra de Sá