Fado has been regaining popularity in Goa in recent years, around initiatives that the Camões Institute and other entities organized in the scope of strategies to promote the Portuguese language and culture.
Almost 60 years after its integration into India, Goa once more became fond of guitar and Portuguese voices.
Fado trades the bohemian ambience of Lisbon from other eras, now cosmopolitan, by the tropical nights of multicultural Goa, the crowded tourist boats on the Mandovi River, where a few thousand people still speak the language of Camões, Pessoa, Torga, Sofia, Florbela, Jorge de Sena and Saramago.
As local interpreters of the music genre that Amália Rodrigues dedicated to the world, currently stand out names such as Sónia Shirsat and Nádia Rebelo, among several young people whose talent is recognized in ancient Portuguese India.
“The history of fado in Goa dates back more than a century and in recent years has been gaining enormous popularity again,” says Lusa Delfim Correia da Silva, a reader of Camões – Institute of Cooperation and Language at the University of Goa (UG) in the capital.
The capital of the smallest Indian state in the territory, also the richest in per capita gross domestic product (GDP), Pangim has hosted since 2013, on the proposal of the person responsible, the Fado Contest as part of the Indo-Portuguese Culture Week, supported by Camões, Consulate General of Portugal and Fundação Oriente.
Sónia Shirsat, 38, “is the main interpreter of fado and one of the most dynamic in her promotion, there are other young women who can follow in the footsteps,” says Delfim Silva.
This is the case of Nádia Rebelo, 22, who obtained a master’s degree in Portuguese Studies at UG, and who in 2018 attended a summer course in Portugal, at the University of Aveiro, with a scholarship from the Camões Institute.
The performance of Cuca Rosetta in 2014 at the end of the First Fado Contest at the Kala Academy and then at the Alfama restaurant at the Hotel Cidade de Goa was “decisive for boosting the project of revitalizing fado,” according to Delfim Silva.
“If young talents of the fado are not lacking, musicians, although in smaller number, also not,” he says.
Orlando de Noronha and Franz Schubert Cotta are two performers of the Portuguese guitar, who accompany Sónia and Nádia, respectively, who are joined by Allen de Abreu, Carlos Menezes, Reiniel Costa Martins and Siddarth Cotta, among others.
“Performative arts and singing, in particular, allow us to optimize strategies for improving the skills of oral comprehension and interaction and oral expression in learning Portuguese as a foreign language (PLE)“, explains the Camões representative.
In the colleges of Goa, in fact, the Bachelor of Arts includes a discipline called “Reading, listening and signing the fado“.
“Fado has been gradually integrated into the programs of Portuguese Studies, first as an experimental strategy, as a didactic strategy to develop linguistic and communicative skills in the context of teaching and learning of PLE“, he emphasizes.
Sónia Shirsat, already with international status, sang fado for the first time “without practically speaking Portuguese“, in 2003.
Created in 2015 by the Taj Group of Hotels, a major sponsor of the Fado Contest in 2016 and 2017, the “Fado de Goa” project has become “decisive for maintaining and increasing popularity” in the region, according to Delfim Silva.
Within the scope of the project, concerts and other actions to promote fado were held, in some cases under the guidance of Sónia Shirsat.
For several years, “fado also has its space of divulgation” in the restaurant Alfama, with a monthly concert dinner, emphasizes the teacher.
In December, the Theater Company of the University of Goa was awarded twice at the Midas Trophy 2018 in Pune, Maharashtra state, “largely due to the magisterial interpretation of excerpts” from “Rain” and “Portuguese Fado“, immortalized by Mariza and Amália, in an adaptation of Gil Vicente’s “Auto da Índia“.