Bidú Sayão, 120 years old: delighted with the opera and was enchanted by samba

In the summer, boat trips along the coast of Camden (Maine, in the far northeast of the United States) attract so many tourists that the population of only five thousand people doubles. However, in September 1994, carnival artist Milton Cunha did not return to tourism. In fact, as he recalls, the blizzard made it difficult to walk. The ice has reached chest height. The mission was not easy. But not because of the snow.

In charge of the Beija-Flor de Nilópollis samba school carnival, she went to try to persuade the next year’s muse to parade in the Sambódromo in a plot in her honor. Brazilian opera singer Bidú Sayão, 92, opened the door with a smile. “Yes!!” The answer would warm their hearts when and also when February arrives.

Opening the curtains of memory, the opera singer said that the samba parade will be the great tribute she would receive during her life in Brazil. A surprise that did not come from the stages, but from the Marquês de Sapucaí. Bidú Sayão (nicknamed Balduína de Oliveira Sayão), this partying scholar, was born on May 11, 1902 (120 years ago) and died in March 1999. She spent most of her career in the United States with a constant presence in the Metropolitan Theater, in New York, he also acted all over Europe. Her travels in search of space have led her to receive criticism in Brazil as a non-patriotic artist.

“When I invited her to the carnival, she said it would be a swan song. So, from her expression, I create the swans in Beija-Flor that are hugely successful. She paraded in the black swan and said it was the country’s biggest tribute to her. ” Finally, she felt genuine applause from the “people” in the heat of Carioca and Brazil. She asked to parade dressed in Carmen Miranda. “She finally got the idea that she’s loved, loved, applauded by people,” the carnival artist said in an interview. Brazilian Agency.

“She appears on this stage, Bidú Sayão
Trembling on the podium, what a thrill
And my Beija-Flor, come and applaud
Girls and Guarani ”
(Chorus by Bidú Sayão and Canto de Cristal, by Beija-Flor)

The carnival artist remembers having a lot of fun and was surprised by the invitation and the repercussions. “In my studies, I have heard all my life about Bidú Sayão. The international press called her the “Brazilian Vigilante.” At the samba school, few knew it because, in the opinion of the carnival artist (who has a postdoctoral degree in art history), the opera circulates in spaces restricted to intellectuals. “But she liked to be sung in a public square.”


Researcher Denis Allan Danniel, the singer’s biographer, understands that this performance at the samba school was truly remarkable for her. author Bidu: passion and determination (2019, 222 pages) reveals that he had fun, cried and thanked for the opportunity to return to Brazil. He, who has been following the steps of the long-lived singer and the people who have lived with her for four years, understands that her unique trajectory has made her live her profession intensely. Bidou had no children. The biographer’s interest in the singer’s story came unexpectedly.

singer Bidu Sayão.

Singer Bidú Sayão talks to Villa-Lobos. – Villa-Lobos / Ibram Museum Collection

Admiring on the radio the songs of the Swedish tenor Jussi Björling, the biographer verified that he sang accompanied by a woman. When he researched, he discovered that she was Brazilian. “I was so amazed and moved that I started watching what she did.”

One of the main remarks of her biography is that the world was hers, but Bidú insisted on spreading the feeling of Brazilianness. “She has been closely associated with Brazil in the United States and Europe. The singer advertised for the country she was going to. She was very proud to be Brazilian. ” However, unlike today, the news took some time to arrive.

“Little voice”

singer Bidu Sayão.

Singer Bidú Sayão dedicated a dedication to Villa-Lobos, “the genius of music and the glory of our land” – Villa-Lobos / Ibram Museum Collection

According to the writer Denis Daniel, the “little voice” of the Brazilian singer was a resounding success wherever she went. Foreign critics bowed to talent. In Brazil, major composers, such as Heitor Villa Lobos, have recognized her as a very different singer.

“What was most surprising was her trajectory. Her persistence in achieving world success. And so it happened: she became the first lady of the opera “, the biographer evaluates.

He considers that the singer had a sharp musical intelligence and was extremely sentimental and sensitive. “He had an unusual talent for learning and using the musical techniques he knew. To make up for her small voice, she was first an actress and then a singer. ”

“The most important”

For researcher Marcos Menescal, from the artistic direction of the Municipal Theater in Rio de Janeiro, Bidú was the most important Brazilian singer in history. “We can say that she was the most important singer in Brazil for the career she developed, a career that no other national singer had.” He also points out that the delicate voice, like a nightingale, marked the artist’s career.

Lyric singer Neti Szpilman, who is also a soprano (higher timbre) and has a career as a soloist in classical music performances at the Municipal Theater in Rio de Janeiro, agrees that Bidú Sayão has left an immeasurable legacy, even if it is an art. which few. they have access to .. I dreamed of approaching that singer, which happened not in the theater, but in the sambodrome in 1995.

Neti watched with deep admiration the parade of Bidú Sayão, the singer who is for her, together with the American Maria Callas, the main inspiration in art. “She was very focused on the shed with all of us. She talked to us, but she was very attentive, really waiting for a presentation. I was very impressed with that. ” She remembers that Heitor Villa-Lobos dedicated the work to Bidú Brazilian Bachiana no. 5,

The singer considers the criticisms received because she lives abroad unjustified. For the singer, Bidú should have been more praised for everything she did. “He had a ‘small voice’ and was rare at the time for loud voices.”

All the more so considering, as the artist understands, that lyrical singing brings pretensions similar to those of an “athlete”, with an extreme training of body and voice. Bidú, according to Neti, was meticulous and methodical in reaching all the walls of a theater and invaded the seats. “It’s very tiring for those who sing.”

Neti is currently preparing for a chamber concert about the musician Cartola, on the 13th (on the celebration of the Abolition of Slavery), at the Municipal Theater. “At the same time, I remember that Cartola also felt abandoned and discredited. At the age of 54, he returned to music. Our artists need to be recognized. ”

Every time she goes on stage, the singer says that she seeks to show that the scholar does not have to be far away. It can be on the side, echoing through corridors and walls. “It’s hard to explain what a small voice is,” says researcher Marcos Menescal. No need to explain. Bidú, for researchers, artists and the public, remains a giant.

See Bidú Sayão’s exclusive interview for Radio MEC in 1987

Portrait of the lyrical performer Bidu Sayão dedicated to Rádio Mec

Portrait of the lyrical performer Bidú Sayão dedicated to Rádio Mec – Tomaz Silva / Agência Brasil

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