Celeste Rodrigues would be 100 years old and there is an exhibition celebrating her life and work | Music

Remembering the life and legacy of fado singer Celeste Rodrigues (1923-2018) is the aim of the exhibition that opens this Tuesday at the Museu do Fado, in Lisbon, at 7 pm, on the exact day Celeste would have turned 100. The exhibition is curated by her grandson, Diogo Varela Silva, author of a photobiography to be edited on the same day, which includes a QR code for access to two unpublished themes: If someone looks for me (with lyrics by Ricardo Maria Louro and music by Pedro de Castro) and a version of the night of my good, a well-known Brazilian song by Dolores Duran. For both, video clips were made by Sebastião Varela, Celeste’s great-grandson, the first already published on YouTube and the second with a premiere scheduled for the opening day, where the musicians who usually accompanied her will perform: Gaspar Varela (her great-grandson) and Pedro de Castro, both on the Portuguese guitar, André Ramos on the fado viola and Francisco Gaspar on the bass guitar.

Appointed as the “greatest reference in the history of Fado”, recalling the life and legacy of Celeste Rodrigues (who was much more than Amália’s sister, as was written on the occasion of her death) is, for the Fado Museum, “celebrating a complex temporal geometry that accompanies more than seven decades of artistic activity and that illuminates much of the history of Fado in the 20th and 21st centuries”, revisiting “its vast legacy through its discography, its repertoires, trophies, awards, acting props, periodicals, paintings and films.”

“I think it will be a surprise for people”, says PÚBLICO Diogo Varela Silva. “It’s very beautiful, with film videos, including parts that were not used in Bruno de Almeida and Manuel Mozos’ films. I think it shows, and helps to show, the importance that Celeste had in fado. And the long career she had, spanning more than 70 years. She was, in large part, one of the genre’s innovators and we can see that in the exhibition, where a large part of her discography is displayed, many photographs and a photobiography is also released.”

For Diogo, all this “helps to see her path, from Fundão to the last concert at Tivoli, also showing what she was as a person.” The two originals that are now being published are only a few years old: “They were recorded very shortly before she died, aged 95, and much thanks to Pedro de Castro, who thought it made perfect sense to record them at that time.”

The communiqué announcing the exhibition reproduces, in full and at the end, a poem written by Celeste Rodrigues: “Alone with illusions I sailed in a boat stopped on the river, stripped of emotions I moored on the pier of my emptiness. They were carried away by the wind of the dreams I once had. That’s why I sing in fado what my soul lives. Yesterday I was, today I am not, less tomorrow I will be. I feel that my shadow is running away in a hurry. She is so tired of me and I am tired of her.” Diogo Varela Silva, who included this poem in the book that is now being edited, tells us: “She wrote, she painted… she wrote beautiful things, but was ashamed to show them. That poem, she never sang it in public. That and another one that is also in the book.”

The sisters Celeste, Odete and Amália Rodrigues with their parents, Albertino Rodrigues and Lucinda da Piedade Rebordão, in 1958, at the wedding of Odete (Detinha)
Celeste Rodrigues Collection

Sara Pereira, director of the Museu do Fado, tells PÚBLICO that for the museum this exhibition “has a very important meaning”: “We are talking about a very important figure in the history of fado, who left dozens of themes inscribed in our imagination. and who was also a very dear figure, very close, not only to the fado generations that followed him, but also to the Fado Museum itself.” And this was noted on several occasions, he says: “We had the opportunity to honor her in life on several occasions, at EGEAC, at Cinema São Jorge, here at the Fado Museum, when she turned 90, we premiered the documentary by Bruno de Almeida, we were also in São Luiz, later on. We have always accompanied Celeste in recent years and it is a great pleasure to be able to pay her this tribute, with the publication of a small photobiography where we also released two new songs that she recorded.”

In the exhibition, adds Sara, “there will be excerpts from Manuel Mozos’ films, Xavierand Bruno de Almeida, Cabaret Maxime, we will have some portraits of Celeste, by Maluda, another by Bertina Lopes, we will have some performance costumes, documentation, concert programs, discographies, many magazines and periodicals, for which he gave testimonials. We are convinced that this exhibition and this photobiography shed light on this path that was so important and that ended up being somewhat in the shadows, although Celeste was always very sure of her path, very serene, and she was an extraordinary human being.”

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