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The original queen of fado

Elizabeth Ludeman | Tuesday, October 12, 2004

If you’re looking to learn a little more about fado, you might want to check out the Browning Cinema on Thursday, when the PAC will be presenting the prominent Portuguese documentary film “The Art of Amalia.”Director Bruno de Almeida’s 2000 film chronicles the life of legendary fado singer Amalia Rodrigues. Fado, largely considered to be the oldest form of urban folk music in the world, is a style that originated in Portugal in the early 20th century. Difficult to put into words, fado can be described as consisting of the central themes of destiny, betrayal in love and despair. A single person, accompanied by one Portuguese guitar and one classical guitar, usually sings it. A large part of the performance is in the gestures and facial expressions of the singer. Because of her immense popularity and her tremendous ability to evoke emotion in the audience, Amalia Rodrigues is considered to be the undisputed diva of fado music. Born in 1920, she gained popularity as a teenager, and by 1940, she ruled the style. She expanded her career into acting on stage and screen, twice winning the Portuguese Best Actress.”The Art of Amalia” is comprised of a series of interviews with Rodrigues and a few of her close friends. In one interview, Rodrigues revealed, possibly, why the fado style was so appropriate for her; she admitted to never being truly happy in her life, despite her fame and fortune. Through the film, one gets a glimpse into the fado style and this extraordinary woman’s talent, as well as her life, which seemed to personify the music she performed so beautifully.She died in 1999, one week before this film was completed. Upon her death, the prime minister of Portugal called for three days of national mourning. Widely influential in her home country, Rodriques remains largely unknown to U.S. audiences. “The Art of Amalia” provides an opportunity for us to experience something unique and outside our own range of knowledge.The film plays Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. in the Browning Cinema of the PAC. Tickets go on sale Oct. 11 and are $6 for the public, $5 for Notre Dame, St. Mary’s or Holy Cross Staff and $3 for all students.