“Beatriz” by Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque (1983)

I wonder if she’s a maiden
I wonder if she’s sad
I wonder if it’s just the contrary
I wonder if it’s painting
The face of the actress

If she dances in the seventh heaven
If she believes it’s another country
And if she just learns her part by heart
And if I were able to become part of her life

I wonder if she’s made of china
I wonder if she’s made of ether
I wonder if it’s madness
I wonder if it’s a stage set
The home of the actress

If she lives in a skyscraper
And if the walls are made of chalk
And if she cries in a hotel room
And if I were able to become part of her life

Yes, take me for forever, Beatriz
Teach me not to walk with my feet on the ground
Forever is always just barely
So tell me how many disasters are in my hand
Tell me if it’s dangerous for us to be happy

I wonder if it’s a star
I wonder if it’s a lie
I wonder if it’s a comedy
I wonder if it’s divine
The life of the actress
If one day she falls from the sky
And the paying crowd demands an encore
And if the archangel passes around a hat
And if I were able to become part of her life

— Interpretation —

Original show bill for O Grande Circo Místico
Edu Lobo (L) and Chico Buarque
Edu Lobo (L) and Chico Buarque

Edu Lobo composed the music for this waltz quickly, “certain it would turn out well”; Chico Buarque, on the other hand, labored over the lyrics, and “Beatriz” ended up being one of the last songs the pair completed for the soundtrack for the 1983 musical “O Grande Circo Místico,” a production by the dance company Balé Guaíra, from Paraná state. The show was based on the 1938 surrealist poem by the same name by Jorge de Lima; Lima’s poem had been inspired by the story of the Knie family circus, born of an unlikely love story in Austria in the 19th century.

Each song on the "Grande Circo Místico" album came with its own illustration by Naum Alves de Souza
Each song on the “Grande Circo Místico” album came with its own illustration by Naum Alves de Souza

Lima’s poem is about Agnes, an acrobat an Austrian aristocrat falls in love with. In Chico’s lyrics, Agnes becomes Beatriz, an actress, drawing inspiration from Dante’s Beatrice in the Divine Comedy, with whom Dante ascends to the seventh heaven.  In a 1989 interview Chico commented that these kinds of commissioned projects are only worthwhile when “you can be unfaithful to what was requested”: In this case, Chico just wasn’t able to come up with lyrics about Agnes the acrobat – even though he observed that Agnes is a “beautiful name.”

So the song became “Beatriz,” and Chico and Edu were certain “Beatriz” should be sung by Milton Nascimento because of the facility with which Nascimento can hit a wide range of notes and jump into falsetto, as the song demands.  Milton recorded in the studio alone with the pianist Cristóvão Bastos, and the third take was the one they kept.  Long after the recording was completed, Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque realized that by beautiful coincidence, the lowest note in the song falls on the word “chão” (ground) and the highest note, on “céu” (sky).

Lyrics in Portuguese

circo3Será que ela é moça
Será que ela é triste
Será que é o contrário
Será que é pintura
O rosto da atriz

Se ela dança no sétimo céu
Se ela acredita que é outro país
E se ela só decora o seu papel
E se eu pudesse entrar na sua vida

Será que é de louça
Será que é de éter
Será que é loucura
Será que é cenário
A casa da atriz
Se ela mora num arranha-céu
E se as paredes são feitas de giz
E se ela chora num quarto de hotel
E se eu pudesse entrar na sua vida

Sim, me leva pra sempre, Beatriz
Me ensina a não andar com os pés no chão
Para sempre é sempre por um triz
Aí, diz quantos desastres tem na minha mão
Diz se é perigoso a gente ser feliz

Será que é uma estrela
Será que é mentira
Será que é comédia
Será que é divina
A vida da atriz
Se ela um dia despencar do céu
E se os pagantes exigirem bis
E se o arcanjo passar o chapéu
E se eu pudesse entrar na sua vida

Grande Circo - Aecio o circo

Trilogia do Alumbramento

Lyrics from Trilogia do Alumbramento: “Súplica” (1979), “O poder da criação” (1980), and “Minha missão” (1981) by João Nogueira and Paulo César Pinheiro

Good Audio Versions: Súplica, O poder da criação, Minha missão


The body, death takes away
The voice vanishes in the wind
Pain rises into the darkness
The name, the works immortalize
Death blesses the spirit, the breeze brings music
Which in life, is always the strongest light
Which illuminates life beyond death
Come to me, oh music, come in the air
Hear my plea from where you are
I know well it may not be the only one
Come to me, oh music, come dry the people’s tears
Everyone already suffers too much, help the world to live in peace

“O poder da criação”

No, no one makes samba just because they choose to
No force in the world interferes with the power of creation
No, it’s not necessary to be happy, nor afflicted
Nor to take refuge in the most beautiful place in search of inspiration
No, it’s a light that comes all of a sudden, with the speed of a falling star
That ignites the mind and the heart
Yes, it makes one think there’s a greater force that guides us
That’s in the air
It comes in the middle of the night, or in the light of day
It comes to torment us

And the poet lets himself be carried away by that magic
And a verse starts to come, and a melody starts to come
And the people begin to sing… Lalalaiá….

“Minha missão”

When I sing, it’s to alleviate my tears
And the tears of those who’ve already suffered so much
When I sing, I feel the radiance of a saint
I’m kneeling at the feet of God
I sing to announce the day, I sing to brighten up the night
I sing to denounce the scourge, I also sing against tyranny
I sing because in a melody I kindle in the heart of the people
The hope for a new world, and the struggle to live in peace

Of the Poder da Criação (power of creation), I’m a continuation
And I want to express gratitude that my Súplica (plea) was heard
I’m a messenger of music
My song is a mission, it has the force of prayer
And I fulfill my duty to those who live in tears
I live to sing, and I sing to live

When I sing, death runs through me
And I belt out a song from my throat
Cause the cicada, when it sings, dies
And wood when it dies, sings

— Interpretation —

João Nogueira and Paulo César Pinheiro (seated) composed over 50 sambas together. They celebrated their partnership with the release of the album Parcerias in 1994, which features 17 of their top hits.
João Nogueira and Paulo César Pinheiro (seated) composed over 50 sambas together. They celebrated their partnership with the release of the album Parcerias in 1994, which features 17 of their top hits.

This trilogy was inspired  by an argument that Paulo César Pinheiro witnessed one day at Odeon Records in Rio de Janeiro. Pinheiro looked on as a grumpy director at the studio scolded a maestro who had let his cigarette ashes fall on the floor. The studio was swank and sparkling; Prince Charles had been flown in to inaugurate it. But as Paulo César Pinheiro watched the tiff between director and maestro, he reflected on how silly it was: The posh studio that the director was so concerned with protecting would be gone one day, and the names on a plaque on the wall, including Prince Charles’s, would fade away. The music that was being recorded there was what really mattered –  it would last forever, and immortalize the artists’ names.

The three songs in the trilogy are dedicated to three essential moments in the process of composing a song: a reverence for music, which inspires the desire to compose; the moment of creation; and the act of singing the song. Continue reading “Trilogia do Alumbramento”