Portugal’s Mariza to Sing at Pritzker Pavilion Wednesday

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(Credit: Rock Paper Scissors.)

A last-minute substitution brings Mariza, Portugal’s most celebrated contemporary fadista, or fado singer, to Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion tomorrow evening to sing with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. Enormous Lusophile that I am, as I write this, I’m still attempting to lift my jaw off the soalho.

Fado, a century-old Portuguese blues tradition, rose to great prominence in the mid-20th century, during Portugal’s Salazar dictatorship, almost single-handedly due to the talents of the late Amalia Rodrigues (whose death in 1999 was honored with a state funeral). The classic form lost popularity after the 1974 Carnation Revolution brought democracy and a renewed spirit of modernism to the country, but ever since the mid-1990s, a new generation of singers has been exploring the style and, in some cases, updating it for today’s listeners.

Mariza definitely falls into the former camp. Unlike other popular fadistas such as the equally celebrated Dulce Pontes, Mariza’s work has hewn closely to fado’s Lisbon roots: a hopeless subject matter; an expressively mournful delivery; and sparse accompaniment, generally including the traditional fado instruments of Portuguese guitarra and Spanish viola. However, her current album, Transparente, explores the relationship between fado and full orchestral accompaniment — making Mariza a perfect match for the GPSO.

And for the Prtizker Pavilion, for that matter. According to the Sun-Times, Mariza’s good friend is none other than starchitect and Prtizker Pavilion designer Frank Gehry, who is reported to be “glad” that the singer is getting the chance to be featured in his uber-popular bandshell.

The concert will take place Wednesday, August 2, at 6:30 p.m. in Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion. And, so help me, if I have to go to Sharper Image and purchase one of those insipid necklace fans, I’ll be there.

This certainly makes up for dropping that full bottle of Vinho Verde in my kitchen over the weekend. Now if only my order of Queijo da Serra would arrive at Fox & Obel, my week would be perfect.

[Read ChicagoClassicalMusic.org for the story of how Mariza was called upon at the last minute.]

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