Musical shows the nobility and sophistication of the samba
by Liliana Lavoratti
“Everything was thought to be simple. To be direct, to be simple. Touching the public by being close, real and alive. It’s no use being different …”
“Everything was thought to be simple. To be direct, to be simple. Touching the audience by being close, real and alive. It’s no use being different. Samba is of the circle, it’s of the group, it’s in look in the eye. Our spectacular is like this.” It’s with these words that the playwright and author of the musical O Fino do samba (The sophistication of the samba), Elisio Lopes Júnior, from the northeastern state of Bahia, defines the piece, in season at the Teatro Itália, in São Paulo until August 25th. The preoccupation with organic music is the basis of the show. After all, the samba requires no electronic intervention to happen. One can create a samba beat by beating on matchbox or a bar table. And the rhythm survives in a world where songs are composed without musicians, inside studios, and concerts are driven by DJs, not musicians.
The fact of considering to be a thing of a “bamba” – one who is an expert in the “ginga” (swing/rhythm), has swing in the palm of the hands and in the feet, is good at what he does – does not intimidate Elísio, who faced the challenge of balancing in a musical piece, the music, and drama. “The repertoire is all composed of classic songs. Samba is very strong. We had the risk of the text not being as interesting as the songs. So I opted for a metaphorical language. Full of images and totally rhythmic,” says the writer. “It’s a dramatic text, quite musical and danced. I play with the language and mix humor and drama. But its base is all the time proposing in images, as well as the lyrics of a song,” adds the author.
Without the pretension of exhausting in one show the rich history of the samba, the text puts on the scene three night singers that invite the public for a ride “through the best of the Brazilian rhythms.” Crooners of a small house that puts on music shows, Rosa do Morro, João do Pandeiro and Zé da Quebrada are played by actors Heloísa Jorge (of the novela Gabriela), Guilherme Silva (of the mini-series O Canto da Sereia) e Esdras de Lúcia (of the musical Ary Barroso), respectively. The songs – the elite of Brazilian samba, are those of Paulinho da Viola, Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, Caetano Veloso, Agepê, Benito de Paula – acquire special meaning during the show, highlighting the personal relationships of the characters and stories.
Sophisticated and black
Besides the most popular Brazilian rhythm of all time, samba also has color and therefore can’t help but talk about racism, underscores Elisio. “One important thing is that our show is ‘fino (fine)’ and is ‘black’, and all this in the samba. Whoever watches the musical will see the nobility of samba and blacks. The elegance, the poetry, the humor and the intelligence. We are proud of this samba. Samba is sophisticated, but only the sophisticated can understand this truth,” said the playwright. And Samba is also resistance, emphasizes the director of the musical, also from Bahia, Kleber Borges Sobrinho. “Just as Candomblé and Capoeira (1), Samba is a kind of quilombo (2), where an entire culture, enslaved and underestimated, poured its wisdom, shaped its protection and intelligently, creatively and magically, disguised a gigantic act of resistance: the consciousness of its value,” emphasizes Sobrinho.
And as “Samba has several mothers, wives and children”, “speaking of samba is to go to where the people of Samba are” emphasizes Elisio. While São Paulo is the birthplace of this spectacle, in 2014 the musical will be brought to the stage in Rio, Bahia and other states that have not yet been defined.
The team is a mixture of Bahia and São Paulo, but only black artists make up the cast of O fino do samba. Heloisa Jorge, an Angolan actress living in Brazil for sixteen years, a natural of Luanda Norte, has a degree in Performing Arts at the Federal University of Bahia and serves on the theater scene in Bahia since 2003. Jorge’s mother is Angolan and her father is Brazilian, from Montes Claros in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. Guilherme Silva appeared in the miniseries O Canto da Sereia and stage spectaculars such as Sonho de Uma Noite de Verão, Cabaré da Raça (1) and Breve. Esdras de Lúcia is an actor, singer, musician and songwriter. With a degree in gastronomy, he swapped the kitchen for the stage a few years ago.
The songs are performed live, and a dance troupe complements the scenes. The arrangements are by the musician Bruno Elisabetsky and vocal preparation is by Daniel Maia.
This clip features the cast talking about the show with host Adriana Couto on the program Metrópolis. No English subtitles of the conversation, but check out the musical numbers from the 0:24-1:33 mark and also from 9:36-12:26.
Source: Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços
1. For background and definitions of Candomblé and Capoeira, see the notes section here.
3. Actors from the stage production Cabaré da Raça were featured in a previous post on the relationship between black men and women and the white woman as the preference of black Brazilian men.