Photo by David Webster
Songlines Music Traveller David Webster recounts his trip to Lisbon, Portugal, in September 2011 for our ‘Home of Fado’ tour
Seeing Mariza in the likes of Birmingham Town Hall is all very well, but the experiences of fado in the Songlines Music Travel trip to Lisbon were incomparably broader and deeper, more intense, more authentic.
By day it was walking tours of fado districts, a visit to the inspirational Fado Museum and to Amália Rodrigues’ house. It may seem over-enthusiastic hubris to describe each of the three consecutive nights’ musical experiences as ‘special.’ Yet they were. We were made to feel important in the fado house as our expert guide acted as a magnet to our table for the owner, the legendary Maria da Fé, and some of the younger performers. Dimmed lights heralded the silencing of cutlery and conversation as each accompanied singer performed.
The next night, it felt great to be part of the capital’s rousing tribute to the late Cesaria Evora in a century-old concert hall in the city centre. But most special of all was the concert on the third night in the open-air setting of the castle grounds, high above a twinkling Lisbon. This was devoted to Beatriz da Conceição. She performed herself, the shards of her former voice still a commanding presence, a growl of understated power. The singer-songwriter Fernando Tordo paid his tribute, and then Maria da Fé belted out exquisite fado into the velvet blue night, spurring the castle’s resident peacocks to join the whooping of appreciation.
We asked for an additional three nights at the end of the Songlines tour and took in an exhibition of ‘Fado in the Cinema,’ as well as relaxing in this great, loveable, salty-aired, roller coaster-hilled, unmistakably southern city. Thanks to Songlines for a rich and memorable trip.
For details of our next Songlines Music Travel trip to Lisbon, or any of the other trips we offer, please click here.