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Video: Fado – the soul of the Alfama

Video: Fado – the soul of the Alfama

Georges Rouzeau - 2011-01-31

The tradition of Fado music is alive and well in the district where it probably began: the Alfama. For proof look no further than the Casa de Linhares, one of the most authentic Fado clubs in Lisbon.

Fado, Portugal’s version of ‘the Blues’, was born sometime during the 1820s in the working class areas of Lisbon and particularly in the Alfama district. Its origins remain something of a mystery yet there are plenty of theories: its songs come from the wives whose sailor husbands had gone for several months at sea or the laments of the Arab prisoners left in Portugal after the Reconquista or perhaps the mournful songs of African slaves...
However one thing is sure: Fado is still alive and well!  According to Pedro Guerra, the director of the Casa de Linhares, one of the Alfama district’s most authentic Fado clubs, this music genre is even enjoying “an increase in popularity.”  This desire for saudade - the famous Portuguese melancholy, seems to touch every generation and social class and looking at the musicians gathered this evening, this is quite clear...    
Seventeen year old Sara Correia, one of the three finalists of a Portuguese Talent TV show, affirms the timeless quality of this Portuguese ‘Soul’ music: “Fado is something that comes from the heart, from a need to express oneself; life itself teaches you to appreciate Fado.” The guitarist and Fado singer Jorge Fernando, an ex-accompanist of Amalia Rodrigues declares, “these days Fado speaks about modern life, the young people’s experiences of today, with new music and new harmonies.”  Under the ancestral vaults of the Casa de Linhares where the poet Luis de Camoens used to drink, the show gets underway...
Casa de Linhares
Beco dos Armazéns 2
Tel: 351-21-886-5088
A few words of advice.
An evening in a Fado club starts with a dinner served around 8pm. From 9.30pm onwards the first singers come on stage, the lights are dimmed and the service is interrupted. A break follows each singer so that everyone can finish their meals. The artists appear one after another according to age and celebrity, and the music lasts as long as the diners show an interest. Reservation by phone or email is an absolute necessity.
Where to stay?
Solar Do Castelo
Rua das Cozinhas, 2, 1100-131 Lisboa
Situated at the top of Alfama within St. George's Castle walls, this edifice which was in part built in the 18th century is a hotel offering a calm and voluptuous luxury. What more could you ask for?

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