Portugal’s Mariza: Fado’s First 21st-Century Diva

March 5, 2010 at 8:28 am | Posted in Europe, music, Portugal | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff The most famous contribution of Portugal to world music — compared to Spain’s flamenco, Argentine tango, and the blues of the United States, and usually sung in a minor key — soulful, melancholic fado originated in the slums of Lisbon nearly two centuries ago and has been seeing revival and evolution in the decade since the passing of its most famous icon, Amália Rodrigues. Fado’s top diva of the 21st century so far is blonde, 39-year-old Marisa dos Reis Nunes — stage name Mariza — whose background does proud by the genre’s African and Brazilian colonial influences; she’s part black, born in what was then still in its final years as the overseas province of Mozambique, and besides mostly growing up in Lisbon also spent part of her childhood in Brazil. This lovely clip, Rosa Branca, is the featured single from Mariza’s Latin-Grammy-winning sixth and latest album Terra (Earth), released last year. It includes a beautiful old Sintra palace backdrop and traditional folk dancers, yet very much conveys that contemporary, jazzed-up sensibility, by among other things adding afro-Brazilian percussion. Here she sings, “I know you so love roses — why don’t you love me?” But wethinks the lady doth protest too much — this classy, dynamic songstress has already conquered the likes of Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Royal Albert Hall, and chances are we’ll be getting plenty more bouquets from her in the decade to come.

Not All Europe’s Balmy Isles Are Mediterranean — Check Out Graciosa, Et Al

January 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Posted in Europe, Portugal | 1 Comment
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by José Balido

When it comes to sunny, water-surrounded getaways in Europe, for lots of us the Med pops right to mind — Spain’s Balearics, Sardinia, Cyprus, the Greek and Croatian isles, and so forth. But hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic from the Straits of Gilbraltar lie Madeira and the Azores, part of Portugal, which some Europeans (particularly the Brits) have taken a shine to over the generations, for various reasons starting with mild year-round temperatures — thanks to the Gulf Stream, they generally don’t drop below the low 50’s Fahrenheit (11°C) even in the dead of winter. Jolly good, indeed.

Yet still, they’ve got nothing quite like the go-go tourism over in the Mediterranean. Of the 20 islands, Madeira’s the best known, but several of the smaller, more laid-back of the Azores have been making a bid to take their under-the-radar tourism scene to the next level this coming summer season. A good example is Ilha da Graciosa, which in 2009 opened its first hotel above the level of a pensão (guesthouse). The 120-room, contemporary-flavored Graciosa Resort & Business Hotel (rates this spring from 81€*) makes a comfy and affordable base for roaming two dozen square miles (61 sq. km) of fetching hills and coastlines, windmills, geysers, volcano craters, thermal spas, underground grottoes and lake, one small city (Santa Cruz) and three villages where you can soak up plenty of whitewashed charm and shop for handmade embroidery and linens as well as the island’s well-known wines, brandy, and cheese. There’s also diving; beaches; a nice, mild climate; and of course a vibe that’s laid-back and plenty graciosa (graceful). Finally, it’s no longer so remote; these days you can fly to the Azores not just via Lisbon but also directly from Boston, London, Amsterdam, Munich, and Frankfurt, on Azores Express SATA (though some of these are seasonal only).

*at press time, US$117/CA$121/£72/A$127

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