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.
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.
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)
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).
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.
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).
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.
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. 🙂