Carnival Plot themes in Rio do Janeiro parades
have amazed tourists all over the world. Although the association that defines the rules for the Carnaval in Brazil
prohibits plot themes solely based on foreign cultures, that does not mean Carnival Directors are limited to that. Rio Samba-Schools
in the past have used their creativity to produce themes which have both a true Brazilian story but are also intertwined with an European theme, for example. This phenomenon, show us the universality component of the Brazilian Carnival
As an example in 1962, traditional samba-school Portela
created a carnival parade based on Austrian painter Johann Moritz Rugendas, who lived in Brazil for several years, depicting the life and nature of Rio do Janeiro. Another very famous carnival parade in Brazil with a mixed cultural background was made by Acadêmicos do Salgueiro
in 1959. The official title of the theme-plot was “Viagem Pitoresca através do Brasil – Debret” or “"A Picturesque Voyage through Brazil” and was written by Nelson de Andrade. Salgueiro´s 1959 theme-plot based on Debrét enjoyed great success and earned the samba-school the second position. That parade was so successful that as a result, the samba-school was invited to parade in Cuba. For those who are not aware, Jean-Baptiste Debret (April 18, 1768 – June 28, 1848) was a French painter, who produced many valuable lithographs depicting the people of Brazil. One of his classic pictures of Brazilian scenes about Rio do Janeiro´s carnival
is shown above and below.
Below, the offcial lyrics for this Carnival Parade based on Debret
Viagem Pitoresca e Histórica ao Brasil - Salgueiro Samba School 1959
Authors Djalma Sabiá e Duduca
Salgueiro Singer: Djalma Sabiá
"Obras de vulto e encantos mil
Às nossas belas-artes, ao Brasil.
Com genial saber,
Para sua era reviver!
Foi na verdade um grande artista,
Do Brasil imperial,
Tendo alcançado a galeria imortal.
Retratou nativas maravilhas e coisas mil,
Série de acontecimentos nacionais,
Viajando através do Brasil...
Seu patrimônio histórico
Hoje nos traz
O tempo imperial, revelando o valor do pintor
Que exaltou a nossa vida nacional.
To read more about the
Do you know Brazil has a specific day for celebrating one of most popular passion? Yes, it´s true! Brazil celebrated last December 1st the National Samba Day
- “Dia Nacional do Samba”. The National Samba Day is part of a giant initiative promoted by several artists, musicians, cultural producers, intellectuals and carnival entrepreneurs in order to protect and perpetuate this unique musical rhythm. Samba Schools are also supporting this beautiful project, since the samba is one of the true origins of the great Carnival done in Brazil.
Below a samba cartoon from Lan, one most famous in Brazil:
During this day, a series of samba and carnival events took place all around the country. Definitely, samba is a vibrant cause to celebrate. Brazilian National Samba Day project
started a few years ago when the grand-daughter of legendary samba composer Cartola
and president of the Cartola Cultural Center, Nilcemar Nogueira, proposed the Cultural Patrimony registry with Brazil´s Iphan
. ( Iphan is the federal organ that serves as a base for the constitution of state and municipal organs for the protection of cultural patrimony. It was created by the Decree nº 25, on the 30th of November of 1937, and elaborated by Mário de Andrade at the request of Gustavo Capanema, minister of then-President Getúlio Vargas).
After careful analysis, the Brazilian government patrimony body declared the Rio de Janeiro Samba
, or “Carioca Samba” as a legitimate Cultural Patrimony of Brazil in October 9th, 2007. IPHAN declared Rio´s samba three strands: “the partido alto”, “samba de terreiro”, and “samba-enredo”, the later being the one played at the samba schools Rio de Janeiro Carnival Parade. The Samba School Association in Rio de Janeiro LIESA
, also supported this project. Nilcemar said that the project would help not only to preserve the memory of all of those who founded the Brazilian Samba in the past, but would help new generations to come understand, cherish, and cultivate the importance of this genuine Brazilian rhythm.
Samba and Brazil Carnaval legends like Cartola
, Carlos Cachaça, Vinícius de Morais and Tom Jobim, (the two last ones composers of “The Girl from Ipanema”) would surely applaud this movement. So next year, December 1st 2009, make sure to celebrate the Carioca Samba! Put on a Cartola record, prepare a nice caipirinha, call your friends and enjoy this magical rhythm!
Angenor de Oliveira, master Cartola<, synthesizes the samba and the Sambista. He was one of the greatest all time samba composers, and helped to create the traditional Samba School Mangueira, choosing its name, colors and destiny. The samba genious shortened the distance between samba writers and the middle class of Rio, helping to promote the carnival in the beginning of last century. Cartola´s 100th birthday anniversary this October is definitely an important date to be celebrated and remembered by Carnival community all over the world.
The "Samba Master was born in the Catete district
, on October 11 1908. He moved to Mangueira at the age of 11, and as a child was encouraged by his father to play the ukulele, a small 5 string version of a guitar. He finished grammar school, but decided to drop out when he was 15, after his mother´s premature death. Needing to make a living, he worked as a bricklayer, wall painter, car washer, and even night watchman. Also, for period of time, he had a job as an office boy in a public civil service department. Historians point out he was never able to make a living from samba or carnival, although he was a true composer genius. The samba singer´s first album recorded only in 1974, at the age of 65.
Carnival and Samba researcher Ricardo Albin stated; “I already knew Cartola from the Zicartola Bar nights. One evening, I went over the National Radio Station in Rio-de-Janeiro City
to watch a program honoring singer Marlene. On the way up, the elevator stopped at the floor where the Secretary of Industry and Commerce was. You cant´ imagine my surprise when I saw him greeting the guests – he was the doorman. I managed to take him to the show, where he was honored too. He was the sweetest and most cordial man I have ever met.”
The nickname "Cartola" came about at the time he worked as a bricklayer. He was a very vain man, and he hated when the cement dust fell on his hair. He managed to get a hat which looked very much like a top hat (means in Portuguese), so his friends at work started calling him by the nickname Cartola. None of them could imagine that name would be immortalized for ever as one of the greatest samba composer legends of all times.
In 1925, together with life-time song partner Carlos Cachaça, he founded a musical band called “The Arengueiros”. Three years later, The Arengueiros in Rio-de-Janeiro
merged with two other existing samba groups to give birth to the traditional Samba School Mangueira, the second official major school in all samba history. This was April 28, 1928. The samba & carnival legend joined other friends such as Saturnino Gonçalves, Marcelino José Claudino, Francisco Ribeiro, Euclides Roberto dos Santos, and Zé Espinguela
, among others to write the samba school´s foundation document. (Deixa Falar samba school formed a few months before Mangueira by songwriters from Estácio and was officially the first major school to be formed. Later, Deixa Falar´s name was changed to Portela Samba School.)
Below we see a brilliant caricature by Leo Martins of samba legend with the Mangueira shirt and a guitar.
The samba genius composed samba school Mangueira´s first samba called “Chega de Demanda”, but his reputation spread outside the samba school when singers Mário Reis and Francisco Alves started buying the rights of his sambas. It is important to state that contrary to his partners, Samba composer refused to share the song writing, giving in only when it came to the rights of record sales.
Another interesting point of his composing style is that sambas written by the samba genius for Mangueira had a melody so beautifully done that they were recorded with many different tempos later on. One of them was “Não quero mais” from 1936, which was sung by Paulinho da Viola in 1973, under the title “Não quero mais Amar ninguém”.
The Mangueira founder had had already some fame in Rio-de-Janeiro
by 1942, having for example, composing songs even to Carmen Miranda. At this date Carnival legend participated together with others songwriters in a famous recording aboard a ship called “Uruguay”, with conductor Leopoldo Stokowski, who was then visiting Brazil. They were truly making history and as a result of these recordings, two 78 RPM albums were launched by Columbia in the United States. The following year, the samba composer formed a band called Conjunto Carioca, and presented shows during one month in São Paulo. Later, he disappeared mysteriously from the musical scene, probably due to the death of first wife and meningitis he contracted.
Below, the Official Flag of the Samba School he founded and loved so much!
What is certain is that in 1956, a casual meeting with journalist Segio Porto in Ipanema,
made sure that this part of history of the Brazilian music would not miss one of its main and important chapters. The master of sambas worked washing the cars of rich ladies that had no idea he had written “As Rosas Não Falam” – “The Roses don’t Speak”, “Acontece”, “Corra e olhe o Céu”, “O mundo é um moinho”, “Autonomia”, “Minha” , “Tive Sim”, “Amor proibido”, “Ciência e Arte”, and so many other samba treasures. Sérgio then took him to sing at the Mayrink Veiga radio station, one of the most traditional at the time.
By 1961, he had already met his second wife, Eusébia Silva do Nascimento, a.k.a. Dona Zica, and was again living at the Mangueira community. In 1963, he decided to open a bar, which was called Zicartola and lasted only for two years. The bar however was crucial to the revival of samba, since it became an important cross-section and meeting area between Rio rich south zone intellectuals, and songwriters from the creative north zone and Mangueira itself. Following this moment, the master and some of his songwriters friends like Zé Ketit, Nelson Cavaquinho, and other were able to promote their talent and songs outside the Mangueira limits, and recorded too their first albums.
Below, the cover of the 1976 album:
The geneius finally recorded his first album in 1974, and in 1976 he released his second album. He had his official debut (after the releasing of his album) at the Gloria Theater and by 1977 he launched the classical album called “Verde que te quero Rosa”, by American Label RCA Victor. By 1979, the Brazil carnival legend
recorded his last album called “Cartola – 70 anos". The master died one year later of cancer, November 30th, 1980. Today, Cartola is recognized as more than a legendary founder of Brazilian Samba.
Last year, filmmakers Lírio Ferreira and Hilton Lacerda paid a tribute to Master-Cartola through an excellent movie that has his name as the title. The documentary had the participations of some of his friends like Nélson Sargento and musical commentator Nélson Motta from Rio-de-Janeiro
. The documentary shows that more than a samba legend, he is the true eternal and probably the original reference of Brazilian root samba.
During Brazil's Carnival
, one of the most disputed (and sometimes controversial) unofficial contests is deciding who was the ultimate goddesses of brazil carnival
after the four-day party holiday is over, specially in Rio-de-Janeiro
!! Brazilians, international press, and publicity agencies, reflect upon who was the most dazzling drum queen or parading muse in Rio's Sambadrome.
There is no official title for this informal contest, but national media always try to elect Carnival artist number 1.
Many criticize this "new" beauty frenzy. People question why does this vibrant contest even exist? Is it a sin to be a muse in the Brazilian Carnival?
Is it there any problem in being attractive, sensual or graceful? This is main topic of this article.
Celebrities, actresses, artists in Rio-de-Janeiro are usually selected and the top Brazilian beauty during the Carnival holidays in Rio-de-Janeiro. Goddesses of brazil carnival
are extremely well paid by the publicity market and pampered by top samba schools. The beer, retail, cosmetics and fashion industry are some of segments that constantly rely on Brazilian artists to support their brands.
celebrities, and performers legitimately see carnival as an opportunity to cash in the investment they have made along their carrier in their mythical attributes. Many of them enhance their media visibility in the samba parade, while being evaluated for movie and TV soap operas casts and TV shows. Nothing wrong with that!
Although we have seen some infuriated perspectives, beauty has its decisive place when appropriately shown.
Nothing new since "Beauty is truth, truth is beauty"
from Keats "Ode on a Grecian Urn"
Below, a small list of Goddesses of Brazil Carnival
Jaque Khury Muse for Academicos do Tatuape
Juliana Paes - Movie Actress, artist
Massafera, Grazi - actress
Alves, Juliana - Actress
Dancer Shayene Cesario
Barbosa, Gracyanne - Mangueira 2008 Drum Queen
Paola de Oliveira
Fabia Borges - Goddesses of Carnival
All of these beauties reached the limelight in Rio-de-Janeiro
(and abroad) not only because of their natural gifts, provided by genes, sweat and tears.
They have true talents such as representing, dancing, modeling and other artistic expressions. Beauty alone is incapable of lending more than the Andy Warhol's original 15 minutes of fame. Brazil Muses have much more to offer in their souls than symmetric lines and sensual poses.
Below see the grace of Mangueira Drum Queen
I leave you to make the final call who is the ultimate carnival muse in 2008. The important point to notice is that most of these muses deliver wonder and magic to earth largest popular show, which is the Brazilian Carnival. I believe Brazilians are authentic in every aspect of their vibrant personalities. Brazilian Carnival is obviously much more than this.
are indeed magically esthetically gifted, and again, I personally think there is nothing wrong with that. Beauty has been worshiped since the Greeks, Romans, and even before, when our ancestors walked the African plains. In Rio-de-Janeiro
in no different.... Many evolutionary psychologists point out today that back in the Pleistocene days, beauty was an important fitness indicator.
In essence, the beauty debate is a much more complex issue than a simple dichotomous approach can imagine.
In Brazil’s Carnival, one of the most disputed unofficial titles is to know who was the ultimate Carnival Muse was for a given year. Brazil media, press, general public, and publicity agency decide who were the most beautiful drum queens or muses parading in Rio’s Sambadrome
. There is no official title for this informal contest, but national and international media always try to find THE ultimate carnival Muse for a given carnival. But why does this vibrant contest even exists?
Muses and drum queen have lots to profit in the advertising business, if they are selected as the top Brazilian beauty during carnival. Carnival muses in Brazil are extremely well paid by the publicity market. Beer ads, real estate, cosmetics and fashion-wear, are a few segments that constantly rely on Brazilian beauties to support their brands. Actresses and models then legitimately see carnival as an opportunity to cash in the investment they have made along their carrier.
On the other hand, muse aspirants or wannabes project an image of success during these days that can actually be used all year long. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that! A famous quote by “The girl of Ipanema” songwriter states Vinicius de Moraes says: "The ugly will pardon me, but beauty is fundamental,
". Nothing new since “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty
” from Keats “Ode on a Grecian Urn”.
Many of the Carnival Muse contenders also see a chance to play important roles on TV soap operas, TV shows and even movies. Some of them, in the other hand, seek more visual approaches, aiming cover of men’s magazine. Nothing wrong with that too! Beauty has its place when appropriately depicted.
In 2008, Brazilian Carnival saw a multitude of muses
, disputing this informal title. Below I listed a few muses that could be a contestant in this tight contest:
• Grazi Massafera, model and TV actress
• Tatiana Pagung - actress
• Fabia Borges - Dancer & Performer
• Juliana Paes – TV , Theater and Movie Actress
• Juliana Portela
Whatever is the chosen muse, (I leave you to make the final call), a point aggressively debated in many forums and blogs is why these beauties sometimes represent or misrepresent the Brazilian Carnival. I guess beauty speaks for itself, but Brazilian carnival is obviously much more than this.
(In the collective unconscious abroad, Brazilian carnival is linked to nudity). Brazilian women are indeed magically esthetically gifted, and I personally think there is nothing wrong with that. Beauty has been worshiped since the Greeks, Romans, and even before, when our ancestors walked the African plains.
In essence, beauty is much more complex than dichotomous debates with simplistic approaches.
Belavista Brazil Carnival is a non-commercial blog devoted to wonders of Rio de Janeiro, with a focus to the Brazilian Carnival. Our sole objective is to describe how Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is magically created, its artists, dancers and musicians that make up the world’s largest show. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns