Sala de Recepção

Lyrics from “Sala de Recepção” by Cartola (early 1940s, recorded on Cartola II [1976])

Inhabited by people so simple and so poor
Who have only the sun for shelter
How can you sing, Mangueira?

(response) Well we’ll have you know we don’t desire any more
At night, the silvery moon, in silence, listens to our songs
Up atop the hill there’s a cross where we say our prayers
And we take pride in being the first champions

I say and repeat that happiness resides here
And the other schools even cry with envy of your position, my Mangueira
This reception room
Here we embrace our enemy as if he were our brother

— Interpretation —

Cartola recording his second album in 1976, with his daughter Regina.

Cartola recording his second album in 1976, with his daughter Regina.

In this recent post, I wrote about Paulo da Portela and his falling out with the samba school he’d helped to found in Oswaldo Cruz. Part of this falling out had to do with Paulo’s close friendship with sambistas from downtown Rio, Heitor dos Prazeres and Cartola. Cartola was one of the founders of the rival Mangueira samba school. In 1941, Paulo da Portela wanted to include Cartola and Heitor in the Portela Carnival parade, since the three had just arrived together from São Paulo. This provoked a nasty fight that caused Paulo da Portela to abandon the school.

Cartola, 1940s

Cartola, 1940s

When Paulo da Portela left Portela in 1941, he was taken in by his friends in Mangueira (though he ended up joining the small samba school Lira de Amor, in Bento Ribeiro, near Oswaldo Cruz). Soon after, Cartola composed this samba, which makes reference to the school’s warm reception of Paulo da Portela – “we embrace our enemy as if he were our brother.” The “pride in being the first champions” is because Mangueira won the first Carnival parade competition, sponsored by the newspaper Mundo Sportivo,  in 1932. (Portela, with a samba composed by Paulo’s friend Heitor dos Prazeres, had won the first samba competition, in January 1929, and went on to win the first city-sponsored parade competition, in 1935.)

Lyrics in Portuguese
Habitada por gente simples e tão pobre
Que só tem o sol que a todos cobre
Como podes, mangueira, cantar?

Pois então saiba que não desejamos mais nada
A noite, a lua prateada
Silenciosa, ouve as nossas canções

Tem lá no alto um cruzeiro
Onde fazemos nossas orações
E temos orgulho de ser os primeiros campeões

Eu digo e afirmo que a felicidade aqui mora
E as outras escolas até choram
Invejando a tua posição

Minha mangueira essa sala de recepção
Aqui se abraça inimigo
Como se fosse irmão

Main source: Escolas de Samba do Rio de Janeiro, by Sérgio Cabral (2011)

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About lyricalbrazil

My name is Victoria Broadus and in early 2012 I moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Brazil - first São Paulo, and now Rio de Janeiro. I began studying Portuguese while working toward a Master's degree in Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, and have since become fluent. I love Brazilian music and want to be able to share it with more people, so I'm working on translating songs to English and providing some contextual interpretation and stories about the songs and the musicians.
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