lisbon’s museu do fado

Tuesday, July 23:  Today, I still have access to the Lisbon Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus until 2:00, so I take advantage of that to go back to Alfama to see the Museu do Fado.  I’ve determined that today, my next to last day in Lisbon, will start and end with fado, as tonight I will go to a show at Luso in Bairro Alto, near my hotel.  Though I made reservations to see a show in Alfama at Clube de Fado, I’ve discovered that Luso is within walking distance.  Not having to take a taxi when the late night show finishes will be a great relief.

Museu do Fado
Museu do Fado

I’m more than a little annoyed that I’m required to leave my small backpack, which I use as a purse while I travel, at the front desk, receiving only a claim ticket which will enable me to pick up all my valuable belongings, including my passport, money and all credit cards, when I leave.  Once I hand over my bag, I have no pockets in which to carry the claim ticket, so I’m worried about losing it the whole time I’m in the museum.  I really don’t see the need for this policy, which makes it hard for me to relax and enjoy the museum!

The museum traces fado’s history from its working class roots to its international fame.  It displays discs, recordings, paintings, posters, a hall of fame, and a re-created guitar workshop.  The Alfama is the birthplace of fado, so it’s a pleasure to wander through the museum getting a feel for its history.

Painting of Fado singers
Painting of Fado singers

Since its creation in 1998, the Museum has incorporated a unique body of collections: several collections of periodicals, pictures, posters, music scores, music instruments, phonograms, clothes and performing props, trophies, medals, professional documents, contracts, licenses, professional cards, among many other testimonies that co-existed and/or created Fado. (Museu do Fado: History)

old albums
old albums

According to Wikipedia, fado is popularly believed to be a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation and melancholia. However, today fado is regarded, by many, as simply a form of song which can be about anything, but must follow a certain structure. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade which symbolizes the feeling of loss (a permanent, irreparable loss and its consequent lifelong damage).

sculpture of a fado singer
sculpture of a fado singer

Famous singers of fado include Amália Rodrigues, Dulce Pontes, Carlos do Carmo, Mariza, Mafalda Arnauth, Ana Moura and Cristina Branco. (Wikipedia: Fado)

records
records

In one room of the museum, large soft leather chairs hooked up with headphones invite visitors to sit for a while and listen to fado.  I could sit here all day listening to the beautiful mournful music if I had more time in Lisbon.

a room to listen to fado
a room to listen to fado

Fado was present in leisure moments in Lisbon since the 1820s, happening spontaneously indoors or outdoors, in gardens, bullfights, retreats, streets and alley, taverns, cafés de camareiras and casas de meia-porta.  Evoking urban emergence themes, Fado was originally related to people who were marginalized in society, taking place in locations visited by prostitutes, faias, sailors, coachmen and marialvas.  Fado’s association to society’s most marginal spheres made the Portuguese intellectuals reject it profoundly (Museu do Fado: Fado History).

posters of fado
posters of fado
fado guitars
fado guitars

In the years immediately after the April 1974 revolution, a hostility towards fado was evidenced by a two-year interruption of the contest Grande Noite do Fado and the radical decrease of fado’s presence in radio or television broadcasts.

In fact, only when the democratic regime became stable, in 1976, would fado regain its own space. The following year the album Um Homem na Cidade was released by one of the biggest names of Lisbon’s urban song, Carlos do Carmo, a central figure of fado’s internationalization (Museu do Fado: Fado History).
Um Homem na Cidade  released in 1976
Um Homem na Cidade released in 1976

Luckily, I don’t lose my claim ticket, so after I finish at the Museum, I’m able to pick up all my valuables.  I catch the Hop On bus on its round trip through Alfama; I hop off at the top of the hill for another view of Lisbon and another pastel de nata. 🙂

another pastel de nata for me :-)
another pastel de nata for me🙂

10 thoughts on “lisbon’s museu do fado

      1. My travels have been indeterminately interrupted; work is now eating me alive, and all for so little money. I wonder how I’ll ever travel again unless I go abroad to work.🙂

  1. Another pastel de nata, Cathy? See, I told you I’d find you, and I should have known you’d be eating🙂
    I’m glad you liked fado. Lots of people aren’t fussy on it. I hadn’t thought of doing the Fado Museum but it looks quite good for a peaceful hour or two. (if only we could find one! You must be skiving off work to’ve done this post🙂 )

  2. When I don’t have pockets, I stick everything into my brassiere. I carried my two passports, credit cards, and $27,000 in traveler’s cheques and cash around that way when I was traveling rough around Africa. I am not sure why I had that much money but I did. I got mugged a few times, but no one checked me there thank God. (Where did I hide everything? I tucked it all into 2 Ziploc bags and stashed them “underneath”).

  3. I’d be upset with the bag thing too, the least they could do is lend little bags for small valuables. I love those guitars I suppose they contribute to the unique sound – wish I was musical!

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