I had the opportunity to attend a media preview. All opinions are my own.

I had the joy of watching Elaine Ávila’s FADO: The Saddest Music in the World. It is playing from January 14th -February 5th at the Firehall Arts Centre. I highly recommend checking out this fantastic performance. It was simply beautiful and brimming with culture and community. The story takes place in Lisbon. Rosida (Lucia Frangione) takes her daughter Luisa (Natércia Napoleão) from their home in Canada to her birth country of Lisbon, in order to share her Portuguese heritage with her. Rosida shares her love of fado (a music genre that originated in the 1820’s in Lisbon. It is melancholic in nature) and more importantly, her love of Amália Rodrigues, a world-famous fado singer. Luisa intends on learning all about fado through Antonio (Judd Palmer), Rosida’s childhood friend and love interest. He essentially tells her that one needs to have suffered some sense of loss and pain in order to truly understand and portray fado. Without sharing too much of the plot, Luisa eventually taps into her saudade (feeling of longing or yearning) and puts on an unforgettable performance. She can really
emote with her voice and stage presence. I was floored.

What stood out to me was how I was able to relate to the characters even though I don’t come from a Portuguese background. I can understand how Rosida doesn’t feel as connected to Lisbon as she once did, since she left so many years ago. I feel that immigrants to Canada can relate to how it can feel going back to your country of origin. Things ultimately change, people move away, and emotional attachment dissipates. When you immigrate to a “first world country”, you adopt its way of life, customs and traditions so when you re-visit your home country, it doesn’t necessarily feel like home anymore. You feel like an outsider. You can’t imagine how you ever lived there at all and cling desperately to your “new life”. Although in theory, it made sense that Rosida would try to re-spark her relationship with her old flame, Antonio, she simply couldn’t go back in time (even though she enjoyed his company on her trip). She had worked so hard and struggled so much, that the thought of “going back” was almost too much to bear.

Prior to watching FADO: The Saddest Music in the World, I hadn’t been exposed to fado music. It certainly is lovely and just so powerful. I think that many cultures have “sad” music of some sort. I think it ties people together during difficult times and boosts morale somehow. Music is a universal language, as we can all interpret it in our own way and take from it what we need.

The Firehall’s Artistic Producer Donna Spencer says, “It is great to be bringing this show back to our audiences as it was such a wonderful success when we last produced it in 2019. I am delighted that all of the original cast members are able to join us for this production run and to be working once again with our partners at Puente Theatre.”

Dates: January 14th – February 5th, 2023
Performance Times: Tuesday-Saturday 7:30pm, Saturday & Sunday 3:00pm, Pay What You Can on Tuesday at 7:30pm & Wednesday at 1:00pm
Tickets: From $25 at firehallartscentre.ca | 604.689.0926