The lights went out, silence and soft shuffles, musicians’ footsteps on stage and then came the sound of a low bass guitar; we were transported to Portugal and the intense melancholy love affair began. Slowly a sparkling dress with shadows emerged beneath the spotlight, an icon willing to bring a message through her voice. Her name is Ana Moura, one of the world’s most celebrated Portuguese Fado singers. Her voice is beautifully rich, deep and expressive, even her spoken voice is enchanting. Ana Moura lit up every corner of The Royal Opera House Muscat with her gorgeous voice and aura.
Her music is a modern variation on the traditional ‘Fado’, which allows for indulgent songs of longing, love and loss, whilst developing the genre into popular music filled with messages of joy, celebration and happiness; a stark difference to the classic Fado houses singing of one’s destiny or fate.
The evening was a remarkably different experience; something completely unique. She took our souls to the back streets of Lisbon and immersed us in the roots of every lyric; just a single woman with four incredibly talented musicians captured our hearts and minds with every piece performed.
Ana Moura opened with a lovely song married with cinematic visuals that deliver how life is a symbol of nature through butterflies, coloured like a small child’s life growing to become a good human. We were then taken through an array of emotions, from immense melancholia to elated joy, with clapping, clicking and even a sing-a-long. Each piece performed was sung like it was the last, full of expression from her very core, truly stunning.
As the Portuguese famous saying goes ‘Primeiro, estranha-se. Depois, entranha-se’ which roughly translates as ‘First you find it strange. Then you can’t get enough of it.’ We certainly fell in love with the genre of music and her incredible voice, that voice, the voice of Fado.
Fado pronounced ˈfaðu’ in Portuguese, translates as ‘destiny or fate’ which means the music is often characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about hardship, longing or the life of the poor, with a distinct sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia.
Although the exact origins of Fado are difficult to trace, it is believed that it dates back to pre-1820s in Portugal, a time where people would gather in ‘Fado Houses’ to listen to The hearing of fados would gradually become ritualized at fado houses, places which concentrated in the city’s historic neighbourhoods, mainly in Bairro Alto, especially since the 1930s. People would gather in Fado houses to drink, eat and immerse themselves in the melancholia.