Santo Amaro

Lyrics from “Santo Amaro” by Aldir Blanc, Luiz Claudio Ramos & Franklin da Flauta (1978)

Eu ia a pé lá da ladeira Santo Amaro // I’d stroll down Santo Amaro hill
até a rua do Catete num sobrado onde você residia // to that house on Rua do Catete where you used to live
e te levava prum passeio em Paquetá // And take you out to Paquetá
onde nasceu num pic-nic o nosso rancho, o Ameno Resedá  // Where, during a picnic, our rancho Ameno Resedá was born
Verde, grená e amarelo nossas cores // Green, grenadine and yellow, our colors
Resedá, vocês são flores como flor era a Papoula do Japão // Resedá, you’re all flowers just as Papoula do Japão (Japanese poppy) was a flower
Tua rival saiu na Flor de Abacate // Your rival went out with Flor de Abacate (avocado flower)
de destaque no enredo da Rainha de Sabá // star of their parade about the Queen of Sheba (1924)
Os lampiões, os vagalumes // The lanterns, the lightning bugs*
você triste com ciúmes //  You, sad and jealous
eu charlando, resmungando que melhor era acabar // And me, grumbling and griping that it would be better to just break up
Pobre farsante de teatro ambulante // Poor farceur of the street operetta
meu amor de estudante não soube representar // wasn’t able to portray my love
e o casamento aconteceu // And the marriage happened
vieram filhos, muitos netos // and children came, many grandchildren
muitas dores, muitos tetos // many griefs; many roofs
mas o amor a tudo isso ultrapassou // But love overcame all of that
Hoje, sozinho, eu voltei feito andorinha // Today, alone, like a swallow I returned
à Pedra da Moreninha onde tudo começou // to the Pedra da Moreninha* where everything began
Olhando o mar, pensei na vida ao teu lado // Gazing at the sea, I thought about life by your side
como um choro do Callado, um piano em Nazareth // Like a choro by Callado, a piano in Nazareth
Saudade grande o dia inteiro // Immense saudade the whole day through
mas com jeito de alegria // But with that cheerful charm
do pandeiro de Gilberto no Jacob // of Gilberto’s pandeiro in Jacob
Pra cada dó, um sol maior, um lá sereno // For every do, a major sol, a serene la
a harmonia do ameno // the harmony of the ameno (pleasant)
o amor do resedá // the love of the resedá
Eu funcionário aposentado, coração não conformado  // I, a retired civil servant of ill-reconciled heart
antigo e novo feito lua em Paquetá // Old and new, like the moon on Paquetá
Passou a vida com os ranchos, desfilando // Life passed by, with the ranchos, parading
União da Aliança, caprichosa em estrelas, desenganos  // União da Aliança, capricious, disappointments in stars
desci por ela //I ambled down it
como desço ainda hoje //  as I still amble down today
a ladeira Santo Amaro até o sobrado que o metrô matou // Santo Amaro hill, to the house the metro killed
Bom era ir, batendo perna, tomar chope na Taberna // How wonderful it was to go  rambling down to drink a chopp at the Taberna [da Glória]
é outra história, é uma glória, ser da Glória // It’s something else- it’s a glory to be from Glória
o que é que há ? // what is it?
O rosto dela vela o Rio de Janeiro  // Her face holds vigil over Rio de Janeiro
como a virgem do outeiro // like the virgin of the Outeiro
guarda o Ameno Resedá // protects Ameno Resedá

— Commentary —

Ameno Resedá picnic in Paquetá, 1911.
Ameno Resedá picnic in Paquetá, 1911. Image via  “Ameno Resedá: o rancho que foi escola” by Jota Efegê.
Rua Santo Amaro in 1956. The road links the Rio neighborhoods of Glória and Santa Teresa. This photo is around No. 124 on street.
Rua Santo Amaro in 1956. The road links the Rio neighborhoods of Glória and Santa Teresa. This photo is around No. 124 on street.

Ameno Resedá was Rio de Janeiro’s most important rancho – the street Carnaval groups that predominated in Rio in the early twentieth century, before the emergence of samba schools. Ameno Resedá began a tradition of ranchos with especially operatic characteristics — elaborate costumes and characters and the performance of slow, serene marches that told stories; this led the press to call Ameno Resedá a teatro lírico ambulante (something like “street operetta”), which the song makes reference to. Because of the rancho’s innovations, which included the incorporation of an enredo – or theme for the march – and a wind section, Ameno Resedá also earned the designation rancho-escola, which is one of the possible explanations for the origin of the name escola de samba  – samba school. (More on ranchos at the bottom of this post, if you’re interested.)

Pastoras of Ameno Resedá, Carnaval 1911. Enredo Côrte de Belzebuth.
Pastoras of Ameno Resedá, Carnaval 1911, the year Ameno Resedá paraded for Brazil’s president at the Palácio de Guanabára with the enredo Court of Belzebuth.

In this song, Aldir Blanc retraces the history of Ameno Resedá, which was indeed founded during a picnic on Paquetá – a bucolic island borough of Rio de Janeiro – on February 17, 1907, with headquarters on Rua do Catete, and which paraded in Carnaval from 1908 til 1941. Blanc tells the story of the rancho through the story of a romance, blurring, for the most part, whether he’s recalling a love story or just his love for Ameno Resedá itself.

Vagalume – which also means “lightning bug,” a creature that makes an appearance in the song – was the nickname of the Carnaval chronicler and member of Ameno Resedá, Francisco Guimarães, who created the city’s first news column dedicated exclusively to Carnaval in Jornal do Brasil. (He is no. 13 in the picture above.) Ameno means “pleasant” and resedá refers to the reseda flower; as the group was deciding upon a name, they reportedly considered first the sabugueiro in bloom, but wanted a flower with a more pleasant scent, and arrived at “Ameno Resedá.”

Cover of Jota Efegê's 1965 book
Cover of Jota Efegê’s 1965 book “Ameno Resedá: o rancho que foi escola”.

Flor de Abacate (avocado flower) and Papoula de Japão (Japanese poppy) were other important ranchos that followed Ameno Resedá’s model, along with União da Aliança, which is mentioned toward the end of the song. (The line that follows União da Aliança – “caprichosa, em estrelas desenganos” – might be referring to that rancho or other ranchos.) The Queen of Sheba was the theme of Flor de Abacate’s carnaval parade – its enredo – in Carnaval 1924.

In this 1955 recording, Donga, Pixinguinha and João da Baiana play Álvaro Sandim’s 1913 polka (adapted to choro) “Flor de Abacate,” a tribute to Sandim’s rancho, another of Rio’s most important and beloved:

View from Pedra da Moreninha, Paquetá.
View from Pedra da Moreninha, Paquetá.

Pedra da Moreninha is a rock and look-out point on Paquetá that takes its name from Joaquim Manuel de Macedo’s classic 1844 novel A Moreninha; in the story, the moreninha gazes from a high rock in Paquetá out over the sea, anxiously awaiting the return of her beau, Augusto. As founders of Ameno Resedá recalled, the picnic where the rancho was founded took place under a mango tree right near Pedra da Moreninha.

Joaquim Callado (1848-1880) was a flautist and composer who formed what’s believed to have been Rio de Janeiro’s first choro group, Choro do Callado, in 1870, made up of two guitars, a cavaquinho, and Callado’s flute. The phrase “choro do Callado” could be referring to the group but more likely refers to any choro he composed.

Taberna da Glória in 1972. Taberna da Glória still exists today, across Rua do Catete from the beginning of Rua Santo Amaro. Photo via Rio de Janeiro Memoria&Fotos (Facebook).
Taberna da Glória in 1972. Taberna da Glória still exists today, across Rua do Catete from the beginning of Rua Santo Amaro. Photo via Rio de Janeiro Memoria&Fotos (Facebook).

Ernesto Nazareth was a pianist and one of Brazil’s most renowned choro composers. He was affiliated with Ameno Resedá and composed the polka “Ameno Resedá” for the rancho in 1912; the song was recorded in 1914 by Grupo do Louro, and has since become one of Nazareth’s most recorded compositions:

Gilberto d’Avila played pandeiro with Jacob do Bandolim – the Gilberto and Jacob that the song makes reference to.

Many homes and buildings were destroyed during the construction of the metro in the 1970s. I’ve included photos below of Rua do Catete in 1906 and Rua do Catete during metro construction, around 1977.

Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro
Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro

“Outeiro” literally means small hill, but here is referring to the cathedral of Our Lady of Glory of Outeiro da Glória, which sits atop a small hill overlooking the neighborhood, and gave the neighborhood its name.

Ranchos

Ranchos emerged first in northeastern Brazil, particularly Bahia, inspired in Portuguese Christmas celebrations that culminated on January 6: Three Kings Day of the Catholic church, and in CandombléFestival de Oxalá, the day to worship Oxalá, the Candomblé deity syncretized with Jesus.  In groups known as ranchos — which can mean something like religious procession — singers called pastores and pastoras (shepherds) danced door-to-door in flashy clothes with small orchestras, asking for money. They always set out dancing toward a Nativity scene, the object of their worship. Ranchos maintained this largely Afro-Brazilian religious aspect until the founding of Ameno Resedá in 1907.

The Pernambucan Hilário Jovino Ferreira was a pivotal figure in popularizing ranchos for Carnaval in Rio. A son of freed slaves, Hilário made his name as a Carnival booster and rabble-rouser in Bahia. He moved from Salvador, Bahia, to the Saúde neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro in 1872, and quickly became well-known, a regular at the homes of Carnaval fixtures like Tia Ciata, alongside such illustrious figures as Donga, Pixinguinha, and João da Baiana.

Rancho Caprichosos de Estopa, with the porta-estandarte Celia Afonso vaguely visible in the middle.
Rancho Caprichosos de Estopa, with the porta-estandarte Celia Afonso (vaguely) visible in the middle.

When Hilário moved to Rio he joined the already existing rancho Dois de Ouros, on Morró da Conceição. But he ended up arguing with the rancho’s organizers, and on January 6, 1894, founded the rancho Rei dos Ouros.  Rei dos Ouros set itself apart by parading during Carnaval, rather than January 6, and introducing greater female participation and the use of a  porta-estandarte — a woman parading with the rancho’s standard, a tradition that was passed on to samba schools.

Main float, Clube dos Fenianos, Carnaval 1934.
Main float, Clube dos Fenianos, Carnaval 1934.

Ranchos offered a more elaborate form of revelry for groups that had previously paraded in more tumultuous and clamorous street groups known as cordões, and quickly became the most popular form of Carnaval celebration among Rio’s less privileged classes. They were known as pequenas sociedades (small societies), sharing the Carnaval stage on Avenida Rio Branco in the 1920s and 1930s with the more well-to-do classes’ grandes sociedades: clubs of the white middle class and aristocracy that had emerged in the late 1860s and held European-style processions with floats. The most important of the grandes sociedades were Tenentes do Diabo; os Democráticos (still a popular club in Rio today, and the official “padrinho” [patron] of Ameno Resedá);  and os Fenianos.  Both pequenos and grandes sociedades lasted until the early 1940s, when samba schools overshadowed them for good.

The serene lyricism of ranchos’ music — particularly that of Ameno Resedá and ranchos that followed the rancho-escola’s lead, like Flor de Abacate and Lira de Ouro — led to the development of the marcha-rancho, the most poetic of Carnaval musical genres. Marcha-ranchos are nostalgic and sentimental, with a slower tempo than the marchinhas that were also gaining popularity at the time.  Some examples include “Pastorinhas” (João de Barro & Noel Rosa); “Os rouxinóis” (Lamartine Babo); “Rancho da Praça Onze” (João Roberto Kelly & Francisco Anísio); and “Bandeira branca” (Max Nunes & Laércio Alves).

Trolley tracks being laid on Rua do Catete in 1906. In the photo we see Palácio do Catete and next to it, Escola Rodrigues Alves, which was demolished during metro construction.

Trolley tracks being laid on Rua do Catete in 1906. In the photo we see Palácio do Catete and next to it, Escola Rodrigues Alves, which was demolished during metro construction. Photo: Augusto Malta.

Metro construction on R. do Catete, 1977.
Metro construction on R. do Catete, 1977. Photo via Rio de Janeiro Memoria&Fotos (Facebook).

Main sources for this post: Ameno Resedá: o rancho que foi escola by Jota Efegê; Escolas de Samba do Rio de Janeiro by Sérgio Cabral (2011); Uma história da música popular brasileira, by Jairo Severiano (2008);  100 anos de Carnaval no Rio de Janeiro, by Haroldo Costa; website of Universidade Federal Fluminense.

Rara

Lyrics from “Rara” by Luiz Carlos da Vila and Nelson Sargento (on Benza, Deus2004)

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Lara, o seu laraiá é lindo // Lara, your lara-iá is beautiful
Rara ao bailar sorrindo // Exquisite, dancing with a smile
são canções de quem tanto, tantos // They’re the songs of she who so many
corações retém com o seu canto. //hearts keeps so close with her song.
Baila e baila o ar // [She/ it] dances, and the air begins to dance
que ouvindo, vai lá, vem cá // and listening, goes hither and thither
e o mar ao ouvir // and the sea, upon hearing
traz o luar mais pra si // draws the moonlight closer in
faz o jardim beija-flor // makes the hummingbird garden
e o sol se põe a aplaudir // and the sun sets to applauding
o samba que a terra criou // the samba that the earth created
em Lara a mais clara versão do amor // in Lara, the most luminous version of love.

— Commentary —

Walter Alfaiate, Dona Ivone Lara, Moacyr Luz, Beth Carvalho, Luiz Carlos da Vila and João Nogueira on the cover of their 1999 album "Esquina Carioca."
Walter Alfaiate, Dona Ivone Lara, Moacyr Luz, Beth Carvalho, Luiz Carlos da Vila and João Nogueira on the cover of their 1999 album “Esquina Carioca.”
Nelson Sargento, grande Mangueirense and Vascaino, composed the melody for this samba.
Nelson Sargento, grande Mangueirense and Vascaino, composed the melody for this samba.

Since today, April 13, 2015, is Dona Ivone Lara’s 94th birthday, I wanted to post the song that I think is the most beautiful tribute to her, by her friends and fellow sambistas Nelson Sargento (b. July 25, 1924) and the late, deeply cherished Luiz Carlos da Vila (July 21, 1949 – October 20, 2008). Sargento composed the melody and Luiz Carlos da Vila wrote the lyrics, which reveal his singular knack for beautifully humanizing elements of nature in his sambas. My impression is that lara-iá is just a mixture of Lara’s name and the common samba chorus “lá-iá-iá.” The line that says “[she/it] dances” is because it could be referring to Lara herself, but seems to be referring to her song — either way, essentially the same message.

L-R: Wilson Moreira, Aldir Blanc, Luiz Carlos da Vila and Moacyr Luz, celebrating their new samba "Cabô meu pai."
L-R: Wilson Moreira, Aldir Blanc, Luiz Carlos da Vila and Moacyr Luz, celebrating their new samba “Cabô meu pai.”

Dona Ivone Lara is one of Rio de Janeiro’s most revered female samba singers and composers — the most venerated still alive today. She’s been a member of Império Serrano samba school since its founding in 1947, and prior to that, was part of the school Império Serrano broke off from, Prazer da Serrinha. She composed some of the genre’s all-time greatest successes, such as “Acreditar” (1976, with Délcio Carvalho, released initially by fellow imperiano Roberto Ribeiro); “Alguém me avisou” (1980); “Sorriso Negro” (1981); “Enredo do meu samba” (1981, with Jorge Aragão); “Mas quem disse que te esqueço” (1981, with Hermínio Bello de Carvalho); “Sonho Meu” (1978, with Délcio Carvalho); and the samba-enredo “Os Cinco Bailes da História do Rio” (1965, with Silas de Oliveira — the unrivaled master of samba-enredo –for Império Serrano). Here are images from the 1965 Carnaval parade:

Since Carnaval 1965, Lara has been erroneously credited with being the first female composer to have one of her compositions played on the avenue during Carnaval. That particular honor actually goes to Carmelita Brasil, founder, president and composer for Unidos da Ponte, which paraded to her samba in 1958. In the 1930s, Amélia Pires was already composing for the samba school Unidos da Tijuca, although there’s no record of her having composed a samba-enredo for the school.

But that’s not to diminish the importance of her treasured samba compositions, her moving performances and her powerful presence in the male-dominated samba world since the 1960s. Parabéns pra Dona Ivone Lara!

Dona Ivone Lara on the cavaquinho.
Dona Ivone Lara on the cavaquinho.
Lara_Carnaval 1985
Dona Ivone Lara in Carnaval 1985.

Passado de Glória

Lyrics from “Passado de Glória” by Monarco (1970)

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Portela, eu às vezes meditando // Portela, sometimes as I reflect
Quase acabo até chorando // I end up almost crying
E nem posso me lembrar // And I can’t even think about it
Teus livros têm tantas páginas belas // Your books have so many beautiful pages
Se for falar da Portela, hoje não vou terminar // If I start to talk about Portela, I won’t finish today
A Mangueira de Cartola, velhos tempos de apogeu // Mangueira of Cartola, old days of glory
O Estácio de Ismael, dizendo que o samba era seu // Estácio of Ismael, declaring samba was his
Em Oswaldo Cruz, bem perto de Madureira // In Oswaldo Cruz, right near Madureira
Todos só falavam Paulo Benjamin de Oliveira // Everyone just talked about Paulo Benjamin de Oliveira
Paulo e Claudionor quando chegavam // Paulo and Claudionor when they got to
Na roda do samba abafavam // the roda de samba, they tore it up
Todos corriam pra ver // Everyone ran to see
Pra ver, se não me falha a memória // To see if my memory doesn’t fail me
No livro da nossa história tem conquistas a valer // In our history book there are true, meaningful victories
Juro que nem posso me lembrar // I swear I can’t even think about it
Se for falar da Portela, hoje não vou terminar // If I start to talk about Portela, I won’t finish today

— Commentary —

Portela's Velha Guarda in 1970, with Paulinho da Viola standing on far left and Monarco at center with a cavaquinho.
Portela’s Velha Guarda in 1970, with Paulinho da Viola standing on far left and Monarco at center with a cavaquinho.

As I mentioned in this post on Paulo da Portela, the history of the founding of Portela Samba School in the 1920s is murky and unlikely to be cleared up.  Historians and old-time members of the school don’t even agree on the year, much less the day, that the school was founded. But the school has adopted April 11, 1923, as its official founding date, and today is celebrating 92 years.

This song by Monarco — who arrived at the school as a composer in 1946 at the tender age of 14 — evokes the portelense tradition of adopting a scholar-ish tone in sambas, referring to books, professors and “tests,” like in Paulo da Portela’s samba for Carnaval 1939, “Teste ao Samba.” The song refers to Ismael Silva’s affirmation that he and his crew at Estácio Samba School, at the time called Deixa Falar, had come up with the name “samba school” along with the samba rhythm that was adopted by all of Rio’s samba schools — which Silva famously defined as “bum-bum-paticumbum-prugurundum.” Silva’s story about the name “samba school” is widely refuted, but not the rhythmical innovations of Estácio. (“Bum-bum-paticumbum-prugurundum”also became the name of Império Serrano’s fantastic 1982 samba-enredo.)

Claudionor, together with Paulo, Caetano, and Rufino (again, see this post), was one of the founding members of Portela, having formed part of the predecessor bloco “Baianinhas de Oswaldo Cruz.”

In 1970, Paulinho da Viola brought together Portela’s oldest members – the “velha guarda,” or old guard — to record the LP Portela Passado de Glória. The album, which Paulinho produced, recorded many old, yet unreleased sambas by some of the school’s founders and earliest composers, and officially launched the Velha Guarda da Portela as a group in itself.  The album includes the first recording of “Passado de Glória.”