Film » Film Features

PORTUGUESE BLUES

Fados immerses itself in some world-class music

by

comment

Fado is the distinctly Portuguese musical tradition of balladeering: often (but not always) melancholy tunes about unrequited love, loss, unrequited-love-lost and Lisbon, trilled against a gently weeping guitar and mandolin backup. A good analogy for the prominence, cultural distinction and versatility of fado music would be the blues.

In Fados, eminent Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura pays non-narrative tribute to the genre and its practitioners. As with Saura's earlier Flamenco, this is no PBS documentary, but rather a total-immersion experience in the art, with a series of fado song-and-dance numbers, performed on a simple yet spectacular stage festooned with vividly colored scrims and screens with apt projected images.

Fadistas of all ages perform — including recent PlayhouseSquare guest Mariza — with some of the departed greats represented in archival clips (no Fado for Dummies captions or liner notes; I think I recognized the legendary Amália Rodrigues, but don't ask me who the dude in the Roy Orbison glasses was).

For non-Portuguese viewers who mainly associate Maltese crosses with Snoopy fighting the Red Baron, Fados can be a cryptic but also a passionate, sensual and exhilarating experience, with a climactic "Casa di Fados" sequence a standout, as a mockup café of vocalists each take their turn in a sort of melodious dialogue. As with the blues, fado is adaptable indeed, and one is struck by the Pete Seeger-like tone of a fado political-protest song and an interesting attempt to blend fado and hip-hop in tribute to a street poet.

[email protected]

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.