“ELIZETH, A DIVINA”
(*) Ewa Procter
This excellent pocket musical is on at the Teatro Maison de France! And it is a really wonderful experience, both for those who have seen Elizeth Cardoso (1920-1990) live in the past, and for those who did not, but who have heard her many recordings.
This homage brings back to the audience memories of this singer who, throughout her lifetime was called “Divina” (Divine), even if she was never too happy about this nickname. But then this nickname had its reasons, as one realizes that Elizeth Cardoso occupied a unique place in Brazilian music!
“Elizeth, A Divina” presents, not necessarily in chronological order, important moments of the life of this singer, her poetical strength through music, humor and elegance, all a major part of her personality.
Izabella Bicalho who takes the part of Elizeth in this musical says: “Elizeth was a great woman, ahead of her time. To dive into her universe is to get deep into the best of Brazilian music. Ary Barroso, Vinícius de Moraes, Chico Buarque, and many other composers dedicated their works to this singer: to a woman who for over four decades always kept in syntony with artistic movements, both modernizing and reinventing herself as an artist!”
Director Sueli Guerra says she believes in the importance of presenting to the public the story of the great divas of Brazilian popular music, of those who are forgotten these days. And that Elizeth Cardoso, ahead of her time, both in music and in life, was both independent and innovative. Elizeth Cardoso was the first singer of popular music to perform at the Teatro Municipal; but she also visited the young composers of the time, those who lived up in the hills.
Inspired by the biographical book on this singer, “Elisete Cardoso, Uma Vida” by Sérgio Cabral, the text by Cora Carvalho is also the result of a deep research into the documented memoir of Elizeth Cardoso (acquired by the Instituto Moreira Salles in 2003), as well as on the testimonies by close friends, such as Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, and also by Elizeth’s own grandson, Paulo César who shared his life with his grandmother, from childhood until the age of fifteen, when Elizeth died in his arms!
Besides Izabella Bicalho, giving a wonderful performance as Elizeth, the musical also has Cilene Guedes, Jefferson Almeida and Dennis Pinheiro, who act in different roles, portraying the important characters in the career and personal life of the singer – boy friends, composers, personal friends, and family members who went through her life until the end. They all sing a variety of songs by composers such as Cartola, Lupicínio Rodrigues, Herivelto Martins, Pixinguinha, Noel Rosa, Ary Barroso, Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes. The twenty-four songs in this musical are played live by Ciro Magnani, David Nascimento and André Vercelino, under the Musical Direction by Tony Lucchesi.
The set by Nello Marrese brings the glamour that Elizeth enjoyed so much, as well as the romantic atmosphere of her songs – so the golden and the red colors are predominant in the scene. The set is enhanced both through the lighting by Paulo César Medeiros and the costumes by Reinaldo Elias. The entire musical counts on the supervision of João Fonseca.
I saw the play on the 5th of July, on an evening “by invitation only”. And I decided to rush and write my article for my readers, as unfortunately, the run will be very short! It is scheduled to finish on the 16th of August, and there also will be no performances on August 1st and 2nd, due to previous commitments undertaken by the theatre. I must add that there will be few performances during the run, as the musical only plays twice a week (on Wednesdays, at 05:00 P.M., and on Thursdays, at 07:00 P.M.). Price of tickets is R$ 50,00 (fifty Reais) with a 50% (fifty percent) discount for students and senior citizens. It lasts for two hours with one interval. Censorship indicates that this musical is free for all ages.
The Teatro Maison de France is located on Avenida Presidente Antônio Carlos, 58 – downtown Rio de Janeiro. Telephone number: 2544-2533. It has no formal parking, but there are always plenty of taxis when the performance is over. It is a very comfortable theatre, seating 355 people. Box office opens from Tuesday to Sunday, at 02:00 P.M., but tickets can also be purchased through the Internet at www.tudus.com.br
Must say that I was sorry to learn that “Elizeth, A Divina” will have such a short run, because it is a musical that deserves to continue its presentations, in order to give more people the chance of seeing it. I quote William Shakespeare (1564-1616) in “Twelfth Night”, when he wrote: “If music be the food of love, play on.” However, I heard that the Teatro Maison de France has some very interesting plays scheduled for the very near future, so now it is a matter of waiting to see what will happen!
(*) Ewa Procter is a writer and a theatre translator, and
Chair of the Instituto Cultural Chiquinha Gonzaga.
Photo by Aline Macedo