“Silence… We are going to sing the Fado!”
Portugal is Fado and Fado is Portugal. From the Latin fatum – fate – this world heritage music genre has no parallel. While visiting Lisbon, you’ll encounter, in every corner, a cafe or restaurant inviting visitors and locals to enjoy the very best Fado performances. Lest we forget, the “borders of Fado” in Portugal go way beyond than just Lisbon. To the North, Porto and Coimbra with their own specific traditions; Going South, Tavira has a new Fado story to tell. The Portuguese Fado, having been growing all over the country, is now ready to be explored.
Porto = Port wine + Fado
The city with a wine named after it has emerged as one of the places to visit. Recently mentioned in the NYT as a “charming city combining the best of old and new,” the Fado movement in Porto has been growing ever since “A Casa da Mariquinhas” – the first Casa de Fados in the city – opened in 1968. Today, you’ll find more than 20 restaurants where Fado is sung and therefore listened to.
In Porto, there is a long tradition of listening to Fado while having a “Fino” (draft beer) or the city’s delicacy, Port wine. The idea to bring the Fado and the Port wine together was recently done by Fado In Porto. From Tuesday to Sunday, at 6:00 p.m., there are live Fado performances combining wine tastings in Caves Calém. The tickets for the experience cost around $20.
Black capes and Serenades in Coimbra
If Fado is the song of Portugal’s Fate, then Fado de Coimbra is the heart of the students. This genre, tightly connected to the University of Coimbra (Portugal’s oldest), “obeys” to the student’s “demands”, having its proper dress code – a black flowing cape – which apparently inspired J. K. Rowling’s own Hogwarts’ uniforms in the Harry Potter saga.
Tuning the Portuguese guitar, the specificity of the lyrics and the purpose itself are prime examples that show us the many ways in which the Fado de Coimbra differs from the Fado de Lisboa.
Nowadays you may hear the Fado de Coimbra in Fado ao Centro, – everyday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. – in ÀCapella – every day from 9:30 p.m. – or, if you’re lucky, in front of the Old “Sé” (cathedral) where students gather to sing and play serenades to “tricanas” (local girls).
Tavira: there’s also Fado South of Lisbon…
Over the past few years, there has been a renaissance of Fado singing and playing in the Eastern Algarve. Now, a group of musicians have come together to offer an introduction to the music and its history in an excellent venue in the historic centre of the city. For the modest fee of 5 euros per person, visitors will be shown a short film with English narration giving an excellent overview of the history of this uniquely Portuguese art form from its origins in the 19th century until the present day. The film includes examples of Fado singers from the past, such as Amália Rodrigues, as well as contemporary performers like Mariza.
The Fado Com História project, which can host up to 40 people from Monday to Saturday, was recently awarded with a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. There is also a gift shop with exhibits and a multimedia presentation illustrating some of the most iconic moments and images of this Portuguese treasure.
What is the Fado? Ask the song:
You asked me the other day
If I knew what Fado was
I said I did not know.
And you were surprised.
Without knowing what I was saying,
I lied to you at the time;
I said I did not know,
But I will tell you, now:
Ash and flames
Pain and sin.
All this exists
All this is sad
All this is Fado.
Fado is everything that I say.
Plus what I can not express!
by Aníbal Nazaré