Mariza Brings Her Portuguese Fado Music To UConn 2/21

Mariza, the reigning queen of Portuguese fado music, appears Saturday, February 21, at 8 pm at UConn's Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs, co-sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation of Connecticut and the Portuguese Club of Hartford. According to The London Times, "Mariza has it all - charisma, a voice to die for and stunning looks... [She is] destined to become one of the world's great divas."

Mariza gives a unique, contemporary interpretation to fado, Portugal's proud and melancholy music about destiny, love's betrayal, death and despair. Her first album, Fado Em Mim, went triple platinum in Portugal in 2001. Since then, her concerts and albums have been selling out everywhere from London to Moscow to Washington, D.C.

UNICEF (the United Nations Children Fund) chose Mariza as Portugal's cultural representative, and her country appointed her "Portugal's Ambassador" because her music transcends all borders.

BBC Radio 3 considers her the Best European Artist in World Music. Germany's critics presented her with the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, based on the most rigorous standards for supreme achievement in recording. At Festival Quebec she walked off with the First Award for Most Outstanding Performance. At the MIDEM in Cannes, she won the European Commission's European Border Breakers Award.

Fado, which means "fate," is often associated with longing, and the waves of Portuguese immigrants afflicted by saudade, the desire for something that is probably not possible. But Mariza insists that fado is not necessarily sad. She bears no resemblance to the black-clad, somber singers of the past. She is tall and lithe, wears vertiginous high heels and sports shortly cropped blond hair. "Fado - and Lisbon - have the happiness, the fashion, the love, the saudade - everything," she said.

Architect Frank Gehry, creator of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, was so enchanted by Mariza's singing that he created a taverna on the stage just for her performance. The Times of London called her most recent album, Transparente, "a reference for contemporary World Music"; Le Monde defined it as "Lightning - one of the best albums of fado for a long time." But a BBC Radio commentator said it best: "When Mariza sings, time stands still.

A cocktail reception at Jorgensen, featuring hearty Portuguese hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar, will begin at 6 pm. At 7:15 ethnomusicologist Dr. Lila Ellen Gray, Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia University, will present a timely discussion of the history of Portuguese fado music. Reception/Lecture tickets are $15.

Jorgensen is located at 2132 Hillside Rd., University of Connecticut, Storrs. Tickets for the performance are $30 and $28 (some discounts apply); those for the reception/lecture are $15. For tickets and information, call (860) 486-4226 or order online at: Free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.


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